MIT Has Developed A Glasses-Free 3D Projector

Ask any filmgoer about the biggest problem with 3D, and they'll likely say the glasses. The fact that we need an extra accessory to correctly watch a movie was kitschy and fun 60 years ago, but these days it's just cumbersome. Not to mention we have to pay extra for a more uncomfortable presentation that's almost always darker than a normal film, and very rarely as evocative as the filmmakers envisioned.

The key development to really push 3D to another level would be the removal of those glasses. We'd love glasses-free 3D where a screen or projector displays a three-dimensional image all viewers could enjoy from different places in a room. Not a single hologram, a full framed moving image. That's something no one has been able to solve yet, but many have attempted.

The latest attempt is from a team of researchers in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Camera Culture group at the MIT Media Lab. They've already created a glasses-free 3D television that uses multiple layered LCD screens to create a single 3D image, and will soon unveil a projector that does something similar.

MIT News (via Cinemablend) wrote about the glasses-free 3D technology.

The original article has a lot of very technical descriptions, but this two-year-old video does a good job showing what the team is capable of.

Now, that's just a TV. And it's years old. In a few months, the same team will unveil a projector at the Siggraph computer graphics conference. Here's an excerpt from the MIT article:

The projector can also improve the resolution and contrast of conventional video, which could make it an attractive transitional technology as content producers gradually learn to harness the potential of multiperspective 3-D.

Multiperspective 3-D differs from the stereoscopic 3-D now common in movie theaters in that the depicted objects disclose new perspectives as the viewer moves about them, just as real objects would. This means it might have applications in areas like collaborative design and medical imaging, as well as entertainment.

The key phrase there is "transitional technology." That makes it sound like the projector will just project a single, static image like the above TV. Not a moving image. They're more interested in solving the multiperspective problem than anything else, which makes sense. Considering the processing power needed for even just the single image, to do a moving image is probably impossible. Still, every journey begins with a single step and you have to imagine this is a pretty significant one.

Read much more about the tech at the above link. Do you think this is how glasses free 3D will end up happening?

Photo credit: Christine Daniloff/MIT