Revolution of the IMMERSION 3D without glasses

Published: 07th December 2011
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In order to represent complex three-dimensional environments in real time, efficient output devices are required. When displaying a stereo image on a screen, special glasses are often required. But a new generation of displays provides greater flexibility while maintaining high image quality - even without glasses!

Immersion is the state of consciousness where an immersant's awareness of physical self is diminished or lost by being surrounded in an engrossing total environment; often artificial1.

In order to create a feeling of immersion, a perfect interplay of various components is needed - software and hardware must be perfectly matched. The representation of complex three-dimensional environments in real time represents a great challenge for the current electronic devices. Amazingly, a German company direct from the Black Forest in South Germany, offers exactly the displays which are designed for this applications and the best about it, they work without glasses.

3D technology is everywhere interesting, where it's important to display a simulated reality and its physical properties in an interactive manner. Whether in industrial design, in the medical sector or in edutainment, the 3D without glasses visualization opens up entirely new possibilities in many industries dealing with virtual reality.

So far, however, this particular area of the 3-D technology seems to be immature. Due to the necessity of auxiliary means such as anaglyph glasses ( Red-Green-Glasses) or shutter glasses to few companies seem to question if this technology can provide a real added value. All this has now changed. A German company from the Black Forest developed and has been producing since 2006 autostereoscopic 3D displays: Glasses-free three-dimensional vision. The TRIDELITY AG has been pioneering in the development of this cutting edge technology and provides 3D without glasses with high quality. But how does the spatial representation really work?

Biology as a model

From the age of eight months, human beings are able to physically see and detect depth differences. This stereoscopic vision arises from a complex interplay between the two eyes and the brain. Our eyes are slightly offset from each other and therefore watch a scene from two different perspectives.

Having these two perspectives, the brain is able to calculate a spatial image in connection with the information of the viewing distance. The 3D Monitors exploit this principle by projecting multiple images simultaneously. A special filter called parallax barrier separates these perspectives and ensures that each one of our eyes receive a slightly different image which represents a shifted perspective of the scene.

This filter can be thought of as a sort of slanted stripe-mask, which is mounted in front of the display: The light of each pixel is therefore deflected in different directions. In order to get the 3D effect the three-dimensional content to be displayed must have been previously recorded from several different perspectives as well. On a special LCD display all different perspectives or pictures are displayed at the same time nested together according to a certain sub-pixel pattern (multiplexed). The color of the image is then separated again by the specially developed filter element, the parallax barrier, and appears to the viewer as three dimensional.

Different viewing angles

Autostereoscopic 3-D displays differ depending on the application: The technology is built on either targeting one user or spreading the 3D representation to many users. Single-view displays, as the name suggests, are optimized for a single-user. The strengths of the single-view displays are in the high image resolution and the optimal image separation of the individual perspectives. At one hand, this leads to a higher achievable 3D depth, on the other hand, it also permits the perception of very small depth differences. Exact this property is very important in many applications like the design and construction.

For optimal 3D effect and in order to avoid spatially inverted impressions on a single-view display, the user's eyes must be exactly placed within the stereo zones (sweet-spot). Optionally, a tracking system is used in order to adjust the sweet spot constantly according to the movements of the viewer which is detected by a camera; The position of the viewer and the processing of these data is done without virtually any delay: The user can move freely in front of the monitor without having to suffer loss of image quality. The Single-Viewer technology is therefore predestined for the desktop usage and as point of information (POI).

In contrast, the multi-view displays are meant for situations in which multiple observers should perceive a three dimensional experience at the same time while maximizing the freedom of movement, for example in group meetings or client presentations. This freedom is reached by projection more than two perspectives at the same time. The drawback however is that this process decreases the image resolution by more than 50% on five-views systems and by 75% in case of eight. This resolution loss is however compensated by the additional 3D information.

Symbiosis between display and software

Virtual Reality (VR) is used in many applications because it make possible to experience abstract data while allowing direct interaction. Things that do not really exist are made visible, permitting us to understand complex issues intuitively. Good VR systems form the basis for the practice usage where the components displaying, tracking and interacting must be finely tuned to each other.
Most recently TRIDELITY together with the software manufacturer TechViz presented at this year's fair "Laval Virtual France" such a VR solution: A newly-developed tracking method allows the user to control a virtual 3D model using a 20 x 20 centimeter cube interactively while showing it in 3D without glasses. The cube is recognized by several reflectors attached to the cube's surface. A camera mounted on the top of the display recognizes these markers and processes their position in real-time. This perfectly coordinated interaction of the components is a good example that the current state of the art technology marks the beginning of a new era on 3D visualization. The same solution will be presented this year at the Siggraph in Vancouver, Canada together with a glasses-free 4K 3D Monitor without glasses.

Compatibility

Maximum benefit is achieved through user-friendly applications that integrate seamlessly into the processes of a company. The TRIDELITY VR solution offers a higher degree of user friendliness in dealing with 3D visualization software by providing a plug & play and compact solution.
Moreover, this solution is already compatible with virtually all commercially available visualization software and therefore interesting for many different industries.
TRIDELITY's "TT driver" allows the visualization of 3D content without conversion of data. Already by simply installing it on a workstation, it's possible to reproduce content on the 3D display autostereoscopically. The adaptation of the application is not necessary: Due to the fact that most of the existing professional 3D applications are based on the open graphics library (OpenGL) the driver is placed between the application and the library working like a new autostereoscopic layer. Due to this compatibility, the upgrade through a 3D package (display plus software) provides a significant added value to companies: On one hand, an upgrade of the existing software to real 3D representation and the other one the increased labor productivity for
the various tasks in the product life cycle. The acquisition of a 3D without glasses solution is for companies in the industrial sector a future-proof investment. Based on the steadily increasing user-friendliness, the growing usage fields and the increasing demand from employees, it is probably just a matter of time, until glasses-free 3D visualization becomes a cross-industry standard for speeding up constructing and design processes.

For more information about 3D without glasses please move on http://www.tridelity.com/

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