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Microsoft's Glasses-Free 3D Display 197

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the believe-it-when-i-see-it dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The Microsoft Applied Sciences Group has developed a new lens that lets you watch three-dimensional content without 3D glasses. The new lens is thinner at the bottom (about 6mm) than at the top (11mm) and steers light to a viewer's eyes via LEDs along its bottom edge. The 3D display uses a camera to track viewers so that it knows where to steer the light; the idea isn't new, but the required CPU power is now affordable and small enough to pull it off on a large scale."
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Microsoft's Glasses-Free 3D Display

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  • Wow (Score:5, Funny)

    by Seriousity (1441391) <(Seriousity) (at) (live.com)> on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @09:33AM (#32577248)
    The Blue Screen of Death will look awesome in 3D!
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      The 3D display uses a camera to track viewers so that it knows where to steer the light

      And the Blue Screen of Death will be looking back at you!

    • by Svippy (876087)

      So with all this nonsense of 3D and voice commands with the new Xbox, if they are moving this to Windows, how do I press the 'any key'?

      Windows, press any key.

      But the body tracking from the Kenict or whatever research development lead to this head tracking. Also, will the text be 3D?

      • To press the any key, you throw the controller against the wall with all of your might.
        ......................
        Then you buy a new one.
      • by DJRumpy (1345787)

        You're not thinking of the potential profits. Now they can charge a per person license just to watch TV. From TFA:

        "Various companies have shown off 3D displays that don't require glasses, but those sets often use lenticular lenses, which are integrated into the display and project different images in two fixed directions. As a result, the viewer needs to be in a designated zone to experience 3D. Microsoft's prototype display, however, can deliver 3D video to two viewers at the same time by presenting differ

        • by daveime (1253762)

          I swear this is an **IA plot to double the "losses due to piracy".

          Think about it, with 3D you are actually torrenting not one, but two, copyrighted movies every time.

    • The Blue Screen of Death will look awesome in 3D!

      Or will it be The Red Ring of Death?

  • # of viewiers? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by B5_geek (638928) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @09:34AM (#32577264)

    So this only works with one person?

    • Re:# of viewiers? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @09:39AM (#32577350)

      RTFA

      Microsoft's prototype display, however, can deliver 3D video to two viewers at the same time by presenting different images to their left and right eyes (one video for each), regardless of where they are. It can also show ordinary 2D video for up to four people simultaneously (one video for each person).

      • by demonbug (309515)

        So, at a guess, 4 x 60Hz streams (so a 240 Hz display). Pretty impressive that they can shift the image that quickly, though I guess that might be part of the reason that it is limited to a 20 degree viewing angle - in addition to limits on how far the lens can probably shift the image (coherently), it may also take non-trivial amount of time to shift from one extreme to the other.

        Brings up some more questions... assuming my 4 x 60Hz guess is correct, do they do person 1 eye 1, p1e2, p2e1, p2e2, p1e1,...
        or

      • by arth1 (260657)

        On the other hand, it only works as long as the people are separated horisontally, and they're still pretty close to the screen; close enough for the angle for each eye to be different enough that you see no more than one projected image. So don't expect this to be viable for any big crowds, or across the room.

        It won't work with a single person either if that person tilts his head. And rock back and forward a bit, or side to side, and you give yourself a major headache, as the optics try to adjust to the

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Sockatume (732728)

      Several people. They've discussed using it as a privacy screen or conversely to display different sets of information to different observers.

      • by AmiMoJo (196126)

        Some high end cars already have screens like that. The driver sees a sat nav display, the passenger sees a video.

        • by Sockatume (732728)

          Right, it's a more generalised version of that, which I believe is an application of the parallax barrier tech that's going into Nintendo's 3DS.

      • by Shrike82 (1471633)

        Several people. They've discussed using it as a privacy screen or conversely to display different sets of information to different observers.

        The idea of displaying multiple pictures to different people is actually of more interest to me than the 3D application. 3D pictures confined to the small surface area of your TV just doesn't inspire me that much, but the prospect of being able to watch decent television programs while my wife watches her crappy soap operas on a single TV is a truely fantastic prospect.

        • by Cytotoxic (245301) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @11:06AM (#32578580)

          Seconded! Sitting through crappy reality shows about fat people losing weight is neigh torture. She feels the same way about Stargate. So we compromise and watch her shows.

        • by Endo13 (1000782)

          Also, think of the application of this in lieu of split-screen for multiplayer gaming. Here's betting the next XBox will incorporate this feature. I can't wait.

  • Ok, I'll admit it is a cool idea and cool tech. The thing about 3D that always drove me nuts were those glasses the never fit well over another pair of glasses so this is a step up but I'm still left asking, 'Why?'

    I can't be the only one who just doesn't see the point of 3D and something like 10% of the population can't even see in 3D to begin with.

    • I can deal with non interactive 3D, it's when the games begin the gimmicky decline to 3D interaction that will totally screw me. Lack of depth perception will make those sorts of games unplayable for those of us who are stereoscopically challenged.

      • Why? Lack of depth perception doesn't make you incapable of taking part in real life, does it? Lack of depth perception doesn't make me unable to play modern 3D games even though 3D displays do make it easier to do thing like judge the location of magic effects being thrown at my character in games like WoW? Is it that you, presently, enjoy an artificially leveled playing field in 3D games since everyone with depth perception is stuck without it's advantage? If that's the case then sorry, but we're not

    • by Combatso (1793216) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @09:52AM (#32577530)

      10% of the population can't even see in 3D to begin with.

      10% of men are homosexuals, but people still sell pictures of boobs

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        And 10% of all makeup statistics are within 8% accuracy (90% of the time)
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        In most populations (i.e. not San Francisco, Brighton, etc.) it is more like 2-5%

        But your point still stands.
        • Or more to the point: 10% of people are color blind, but somehow they still sell color TVs.

          .... or are those 10% of color-blind people only in some color-blind Metropolis (... and where would that be...)?

          • by AusIV (950840) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @12:02PM (#32579448)
            10% of men are colorblind, which boils down to about 5% of the general population. That said, the vast majority of colorblind people still see color, we just don't see it quite right. This gallery [webexhibits.org] demonstrates how people with different types of colorblindness see various pictures.
        • There are so many issues with social constructs that it's hard to get a reliable picture of the matter. Places that are more tolerant such as San Francisco are artificially high, because they not only are catalytic in more people living openly with regard to sexuality, but they attract people from places that are intolerant, decreasing natural presence in those places. And in those intolerant places people are of course less likely to endure public disapproval about living openly, which drives perceived num
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by kalirion (728907)

        10% of men are homosexuals, but people still sell pictures of boobs

        Are you implying that lesbians aren't interested in boobs?

      • by Man Eating Duck (534479) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @10:45AM (#32578258)

        Way OT, but that reminds me of a quote from James Randi about coming out of the closet. From the end of this interview snippet [bigthink.com]:

        And people often will say, "But you named your car Sophia, after Sophia Loren." A little blue Miata, a beautiful little jobbie. And they said, "Well, you keep on talking about Sophia Loren." And I say, "Yes. You see, I'm gay, but I'm not blind."

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        I hope this means we are replacing all car analogies with boob analogies!
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anne_Nonymous (313852)

      >> those glasses the never fit well over another pair of glasses

      That's what 3D contacts are for. Well, that and freaking people out in the supermarket.

    • I have to agree with you. I was a bit confused by this sudden surge of 3D movies and tech in the last year. 3D has been around for so long, why is it suddenly being marketed so heavily now? I also do not see any real benefit from it; it seems to me like a silly gimmick. I am reminded of the Wii; motion sensor technology had also been around for years and years, yet the Wii used it to sell a ton of consoles to casuals (and yet...who still plays on their Wii? For me, the novelty has worn off, and I am back to
      • by Dishevel (1105119) *
        Dose The ability to play your PS3 on your 52" screen while the wife watches crappy chick flick and the 2 kids are not arguing about what to watch worth it to you? Or how about having a friend over and playing against each other sitting right next to each other and not seeing the screen of the other guy? I am SO FUCKING GETTING ONE.
        • Fair points, though they do not much apply to me:
          1) My partner would rather join me playing PS3 (she especially likes LBP). Though mostly we are PC gamers, both of us.
          2)Don't have kids.
          3) Last point is valid, though as mentioned I am more likely to be playing FPS's on a PC, and thus the screen problem is not an issue.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by tlhIngan (30335)

        I have to agree with you. I was a bit confused by this sudden surge of 3D movies and tech in the last year. 3D has been around for so long, why is it suddenly being marketed so heavily now? I also do not see any real benefit from it; it seems to me like a silly gimmick.

        Because people aren't going to theatres anymore. Whether by piracy or the rise of the home theatre, the movie studios need something to justify people going out to watch a movie rather than waiting for it on Blu-Ray and DVD. IMAX has 3D for w

        • You raise fair points, and I can see now the justification for going forward with 3D technology (though 3D PC gaming still seems far-fetched to me, since it is such a relatively small screen, I think 3D would make it too "busy").
          I must pick you up on one point:

          That, and there's no real new tech in TVs these days

          On the contrary, LED TVs are making their way into the consumer market, and are mightily impressive, though still very expensive. The picture they produce are brilliant. I think my next TV will be an LED (though not a 3D one).

    • What do you mean "why"? The point is to have 3D consumer media, e.g. 3DTV, 3D movies, more immersive* games (3D display + Natal?), etc.

      And if 10% can't see in 3D (which is obviously not true - they can see in 3D, they're simply not fooled by current displays), that leaves 90% of the population. Saying that is useless to sell 3D displays because of 10% is like saying there's no point in selling tools for right handed people.

    • According to Wikipedia, something like 18% of the population has some form of colorblindness, should we have not bothered with color TVs? Your argument is idiotic Ludditism. Just because you don't care about it, why do you feel the need to piss in everyone else's Cheerios?

    • by Dishevel (1105119) *
      Stupidest comment ever on /.? Not sure. Just would like to know where you all think this one ranks.
    • by radtea (464814)

      Ok, I'll admit the automobile is a cool idea and cool tech. The thing about horses that always drove me nuts were those saddles the never fit well so this is a step up but I'm still left asking, 'Why?'

      Automobiles were around for about 100 years before Ford's first assembly line, and were pretty much "cool tech, cool idea, but huh?" Then the bugs were ironed out and they became reliable and cheap enough to do some modestly useful things.

      I can't see how 3D-TV is going to do anything comparable, but I'm not so arrogant to believe that my inability to see something means that it won't happen. Maybe it'll revolutionize design engineering, as we are still doing 3D CAD on 2D displays...

      The really important th

  • It seems to me that if they can do reliable head tracking (which seems to be a requirement), then it also enables this technique [youtube.com] which I find much more impressive than simple tweaking of focal distance.
  • by aicrules (819392) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @09:35AM (#32577290)
    Once Ben Affleck gets ahold of one of these, it's only a matter of time before another company announces a 3D screen minus the screen.
    • i'll make you a deal: i'll make believe i didn't get the movie reference in your joke if you make believe you didn't make the joke, and we'll both make believe we never saw the movie. erase our memories as it were

      • by aicrules (819392)
        To erase memories should we use the more intense hardware method or the newer, but slightly unreliable chemical method that may result in vague memories of each other's eyes that eventually leads to the undoing of some evil plans?
  • Microsoft: Here's our new tech. We have a single working prototype in the lab and maybe in 2-3 years (if ever) you will be able to buy a watered down version with less features than this one.

    Apple: Here's our new tech. You can get-it from the Apple Store starting now.

    Microsoft's tech might be cooler but guess who will have more sales ... By the time Microsoft would get this to market, there will be dozens of low-quality chinese knock-offs at 1/2-1/4 of the price but compatible with each-other and Microsoft'

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Apple is a bit more like--You can get it next June in the apple store, and oh man is it going to be broken for the first couple releases but we'll take your money anyways.

      • by Arkham (10779)

        Apple is a bit more like--You can get it next June in the apple store, and oh man is it going to be broken for the first couple releases but we'll take your money anyways.

        Funny, as I type this on my iPad, which has been flawless, I have to disagree with you.

      • by Dishevel (1105119) *
        After we get it working though we will team up with Sony and Downgrade the shit you bought till it is worthless though.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by TheCycoONE (913189)

      My theory has long been that Microsoft hires people into these research positions to prevent them from coming up with something innovative for someone else that might disrupt their business strategy. These people are then given a decent salary to do whatever they want on whatever schedule; and as a bonus when they come up with something cool Microsoft could show it off for PR purposes (but never actually attempt to manufacture said item because it would just take away from their serious work.)

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by tophermeyer (1573841)

      MS is just spreading the word about their new tech much earlier in the development cycle. Apple knows that it already has its fanbois standing in line to get whatever it is they come out with next, they don't have to worry about generating interest 2-3 years ahead of time.

      MS likes the image of itself as an R&D innovator (whether or not they actually are, thats the image they like to portray). It is in their best interests for everyone to see their projects as the develop. Think of all the press time

    • Microsoft's tech might be cooler but guess who will have more sales ...

      That's interesting, because even as I browse the macrumours site I don't see anything to suggest Apple is working on a competitor for this. Even their "Hyper Real" 3d display is totally different than this.

      I'm not saying Microsoft is going to do well with this, it could be yet another flop *cough*zune*cough*. But I don't think Apple is going to be the one dominating the sales in this market either.

    • by KnownIssues (1612961) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @10:30AM (#32578014)

      You're missing the point here. Microsoft is not a hardware company, unlike Apple, which is both hardware and software. Microsoft is a software company that invests in hardware research to create Proofs-Of-Concept to convince other hardware companies to build the hardware that Microsoft's NextProduct will depend on for cool-whiz-bang features.

      When Microsoft sells a mouse, it's because it's a five-button mouse before five-button mice have caught on and it's not even because it's the first five-button mouse, it's because it defines the specs that Microsoft wants all the other hardware vendors to follow, not because it's innovative but because it makes the hardware work consistently on its OS. When Microsoft sells a keyboard, it's because it wants hardware makers to add that useless Windows key.

      • Having read this, I regret that I already posted elsewhere and cannot mod you up. That is a very Insightful point (see what I did there?).
      • by psergiu (67614)

        Ok, not a hardware company.

        Microsoft:Here's our new tech, the next version of Windows which will have a brand-new filesystem called WinFS ...

    • by ProppaT (557551)

      The difference is that Microsoft has a research lab that tries to create and innovate new technologies. Apple has a room full of designers that they have working on making existing technology look slick.

    • by denzacar (181829) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @10:46AM (#32578282) Journal

      Microsoft: Here's the tech we have bought off and patented recently.
      We have a single working prototype in the lab and in about a year(ish), you will be able to buy a version with tacked on features you will have no use for, most of which won't even work as they should.

      Apple: Here's the tech we have copied from someone else, tacked an 'i' in front of it and spit-shined it to appear cooler.
      You can PAY for it right now at the Apple Store, and we will get it to you when we damn well please.

      Oh... and one more thing - it will cost anywhere between 2 and 5 times as the competition's model, but it will come in Apple's signature iWhite and maybe some other iColors.
      And it will cost half as much a month after it comes out. If you complain nicely, you will get a iGift-certificate for the fraction of the money difference that you can use to buy socks for your iPod. [apple.com]

    • by GF678 (1453005)

      I don't understand why Microsoft even bothers showing off all those very-cool-but-you-can't-have-them products.

      Yeah! I mean this fancy Project Natal (Kinect) crap they've been working on, that'll never come to fruition!

      Oh wait...

      It only takes one example to ruin your FUD.

    • Well, one of the big hurdles to 3DTV in the home for the common TV user is definitely its current inconveniences. Current 3D TVs either require you to sit in a specific spot or wear glasses. This solves the biggest annoyance. Now they need to get the TV up to 360-480hz to make 3D watchable by 3-4 people and they are sitting on the next big home entertainment item.

      I personally see it as a very big deal.

    • by Rogerborg (306625)
      Hitachi: It's just super cute how you round eyes get excited over last year's technology [tomsguide.com].

      Actually, that's a lie. I was working with Japanese 3D phones in 2008, never mind 2009.

    • Microsoft: Here's our new tech. We have a single working prototype in the lab and maybe in 2-3 years (if ever) you will be able to buy a watered down version with less features than this one.

      Apple: Here's our new tech. You can get-it from the Apple Store starting now.

      Of course you can only use Apple-approved media, bought from the iTunes store, and developed only with Apple-approved tools by Apple-approved partners.

      And it does cost three times what comparable systems from other vendors cost, but ours is sleek and black and shiny, even if it has trailing-edge hardware for your price.

      Oh, and we'll charge you the equivalent of a new product with your 3 years of AppleCare, so when you want t

  • Seriously, what is it like? As someone who suffers from a condition known as Strabismus [wikipedia.org], all 3D movies tend to do is make my eyes water.

    All the big chains in Aus are promoting 3D TV's, I'm not looking forward to that sales conversation when I decide to upgrade my TV.
    • Don't worry, friend. 3D is mostly very disappointing. Shapes that were flat on the screen come out at you, but are still flat. And it is still not fully immersive (unless you've got a 360 display setup) so it is more like instead of looking at a picture book, its like one of those popup books you used to get as a kid.

      And I wouldn't worry about upgrading your TV. I believe this 3D thing will either a)never really take off at all in the consumer/home market, or b)become briefly popular and then die away (l
      • by Techman83 (949264)
        The only reason I want to upgrade is to go bigger. The little 28" we've got, just doesn't cut it. Superficial "features" like 3D aren't remotely on my radar. I think the nostalgia of 3D (it's been talked about as far as I can remember), is more exciting than what the current reality.

        To be honest, on the list of things that annoy me in life, lack of 3D isn't one that rates highly. Accurate depth perception would be far more useful!
        • Haha, indeed, I do not envy you with this condition.
          I would look at your budget. a 37" or 42" does nicely (anything bigger than that, I find, is not really worth the money, but that's just me).
          If you can afford it, get an LED. Otherwise, many 1080p 37-40" LCD's can be very impressive (check the contrast ratio, the higher it is, the crisper the picture looks in terms of bright whites and dark blacks).
          • by bipbop (1144919)
            Ugh, "an LED". As marketroid-speak for "an LCD display which happens to use LED backlights", it is somewhat annoying, because there exist actual LED displays (meaning two-dimensional arrays of LEDs), even if they are not on the market at present. I prefer to avoid using the marketing term, because it is misleading and implies they are not LCD displays.
        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          If you're in the market watch tigerdirect's specials, they are notorious spammers but they have lately had some amazing deals on big LCDs.

    • There's no conversation to be had. If you're listening to a salesman trying to sell you a TV, you're probably not ready to buy one.

      It looks sucky, by the way, and gives people without focusing issues a headache as well.
      • by Techman83 (949264)
        Most salesmen I've dealt with tend to prattle on thinking they know more and that Brand X or Technology X is better. I can't wait for them to blab on about how I'd be much better off with the more expensive 3D tv.
    • by daid303 (843777)

      Seriously, what is it like?

      It's unnatural, while 2D looks flat you know it's not real and a flat image on a screen. With the pseudo 3D movies you get some fancy trick where your mind is tricked in thinking it's 3D, but only if you look at it from the right location, at the right angle, which you never do, as you need to sit at the right place, but also need to keep your head level. There are also focus problems, as you need to focus on the 2D screen on which it's projected while you mind wants to focus on a different distance. Making

  • by baxissimo (135512) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @10:22AM (#32577900)
    Found this presentation about the tech behind this: http://www.sidchapters.org/pacificnorthwest/meetings/apr01_09_presentation.pdf [sidchapters.org]
  • It's great and all but what is it going to cost when all these little parts goes wrong

  • by zm (257549) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @02:19PM (#32581432) Homepage
    ... will it blend?

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