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Making 3D television an everyday reality

By August 16, 2013Newswires

[Date: 2013-08-16]

A new image processing technique has been developed that allows viewers to watch 3D television while moving freely around the room, without the need for special glasses. This could lead to superior 3D television viewing at a competitive cost.

In recent years, 3D technology has been filtering through from the research lab into homes and businesses. Development has been slow however, partly because 3D televisions have until now been very expensive.

This is partly due to the fact that a 3D television – or an autostereoscopic television – requires built-in cameras capable of tracking both pupils continuously in order to determine the exact eye position of the viewer. Furthermore, each eye must perceive a separate image in order to achieve the 3D effect without glasses.

This technology is not only expensive; it is also far from perfect. If the user moves too quickly or changes viewing position, the image can appear distorted or unstable. Users must therefore remain at an optimal viewing distance, to ensure that they do not experience a loss of depth or image resolution.

Researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute in Germany sought to address this apparent technological weakness by developing a new image processing technique that would enable viewers to enjoy full 3D quality at different distances. The researchers found that while software could not completely eliminate image distortion, it could nonetheless shift the distortion, so that viewers always have what appears to be a clear 3D image.

The software works by re-calculating individual display sub-pixels by means of a mathematical algorithm whenever the viewer changes position. This ensures that images are formed at the appropriate distance from the viewer. Users can move not only forwards and backwards but sideways as well, without distorting the image.

Researchers say that the new technique can permit up to five viewers at a distance of 30 cm to six metres, without impairing the apparent depth and image resolution. This added freedom of movement could enable 3D displays to be viewed from desktops, television sets or public viewing displays. The technology will be exhibited at the Fraunhofer Booth at the IFA international consumer electronics trade fair, which is being held in Berlin from 6 to 11 September 2013.

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