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Would you like your future 3D to be glasses free?

08.22.2012

Audience wearing 3D glasses

There are many reasons that many people don't dig on 3D, the main one seemingly being an annoyance at having to wear the special glasses. Glasses like these.  I actually find the glasses to be one of the least offensive things about the whole experience (which really isn't saying all that much), but for those of you who do find the glasses situation to be the single biggest hindrance to enjoying 3D... well, then this may be the first of many lucky days to come. 

South Korean researchers have developed a way for movie theaters to actually show 3D movies sans glasses, something which gadgets such as Nintendo's 3DS have somewhat managed to do but has never been achieved on such a large scale before (so far as I know).  As is, the technology is currently not capable of diffusing the movie image at a resolution high enough to justify an $8.50+ ticket price.  But it's definitely a step on the path towards glasses-free 3D.

Ian McKellan wearing 3D glasses

How we wished we looked wearing 3D glasses.

Here are two explanations, one for the more scientifically minded amongst you and one for folks such as myself (damnit Jim, I'm a writer not an optic specialist!):

Original Publication: "In a typical auto-stereoscopic three-dimensional display, the parallax barrier or lenticular lens is located in front of the display device. However, in a projection-type auto-stereoscopic display, such optical components make it difficult to display elemental images on the screen or to reconstruct a three-dimensional image, even though a projection-type display has many advantages. Therefore, it is necessary to use a rear projection technique in a projection-type auto-stereoscopic display, despite the fact that this is an inefficient use of space. We propose here a frontal projection-type auto-stereoscopic display by using a polarizer and a quarter-wave retarding film. Since the proposed method uses a frontal projection scheme and passive polarizing components, it has the advantage of being both space saving and cost effective. This is the first report that describes a frontal projection-type auto-stereoscopic display based on a parallax barrier and integral imaging by using a projector. Experimental results that support the proposed method are provided."

Layman Interpretation: "When you sit down to watch something like Avatar, two projectors are displaying two images on the same screen, with the light from one polarized left-right and the other up-down. This is why the screen looks kind of blurry when you take the glasses off – there are two movies playing on it at the same time. The 3-D glasses correct the situation by separating these images, allowing the left-projector movie to go to your left eye and the right-projector movie into your right.  The new method would allow movie theaters to keep their projectors where they’ve always been, behind the audience, and uses fairly simple optical technology. A special array sits in front of the projector and polarizes its light. A filter covering the screen then obscures different vertical regions of the screen, like the slats of venetian blinds. Each of your eyes, sitting at a slightly different angle, has some of the screen blocked and some of the screen visible. The movie has the right-eye and left-eye images interleaved in vertical columns with one another. The trick then is to have the light visible to your left eye contain the left-eye pixels and vice versa for the right eye."

Creepy audience wearing 3D glasses

Versus the creepy cult-like way we actually look.

Extra Tidbit: Would you be more likely to go see a 3D movie if you didn't have to wear special glasses in order to do so?
Source: Optics ExpressWired

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