Aug 172010

New 3D Technology

With the advent of 3D glasses with polarizing filters and LCD shutters you’d be forgiven for thinking we’d seen the last of the archetypal numbers with different colored filters.

Well, think again because European researchers have come up with technology they say can display 3D images at a monitor’s full resolution, with no darkening of the ambient light, no restrictions on viewing angle and with less strain on the eyes than other 3D technologies – and yes, it relies on glasses with different colored filters.

There’s no secret that current 3D technologies aren’t perfect. After the initial hoopla surrounding the latest batch of 3D entertainment, best illustrated by Avatar, people have started to notice a few pitfalls. The glasses – both passive (polarized) and active shutter – cause a noticeable dimming of the image. Also, anyone who has shelled out for a new 3D TV will likely have noticed that it has to be watched with the head in an upright position. Simply tilting your head can cause ghosting and color changes, while laying down can cause the image to disappear altogether. As has also been widely reported, some people can suffer headaches and nausea when watching 3D for an extended period. Not exactly what you’d expect from the next big thing in home entertainment.

German and Swiss researchers on a EUREKA project say they have developed technology that overcomes these problems. The breakthrough is the result of three friends at German company Infitec wanting to develop a 3D LCD flat-screen monitor capable of displaying the full resolution of the new high-definition television formats.

Everything old is new again

Infitec had already developed 3D technology for cinemas called wavelength multiplexing, which is based on the principle of the old red and green glasses. The company’s glasses use a much narrower color band wave than the traditional red and green glasses to improve the quality of the image, using specific wavelengths of red, green and blue for the right eye and different wavelengths of the same colors for the left eye. Filtering out very specific wavelengths provides different images to the left and right eyes, giving the spectator the illusion of 3D.

Infitec then partnered up with Swiss company Optics Balzers, which specializes in 3D filters and the two companies secured funding to start developing the 3D LCD screen. While Infitec researched the best signal and lighting to use in the monitor and software for it, Optics Balzers developed special filters for the lighting unit and the glasses.

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