3D Stereo Technology: Is it Ready for Prime Time?

Other Manufacturers

The big names of the display world are also slowly beginning to enter the market for autostereoscopic displays.

NEC Mitsubishi recently unveiled its LCD 4000 line of 40" LCD displays. These have been augmented with 3D stereo technology supplied by X3D Technologies. In the United States, the company X3D is known under the name "Opticality" .

Philips has also been experimenting with 3D LCD displays for some time now, also using cylindrical lenses similar to those employed by A.C.T. Kern. Philips offers quite a lot of information about prototypes, patents and whitepapers on its website .

Sharp has developed a notebook with an autostereoscopic display, called the PC-RD3D. More information can be found on the product page .

Sharp has also developed the autostereoscopic 15" LCD display LL-151D for the Japanese market. This display can switch between normal 2D view and 3D mode at the touch of a button. Sharp employs so-called "parallax barriers" in its 3D displays. Using an integrated and switchable LCD, the optical deflection can be switched on (3D mode) or off (2D mode). More information on Sharp's 3D technology is available here .

Very recently, Toshiba introduced a new 3D technology , which also employs a very fine system of lenses. The first public demonstration of this technology took place in mid-April 2005.

In March 2003, several Japanese companies joined forces and created the "3D Consortium" . Sony, Sanyo and Sharp are members of this group. Today, many other well-known companies have also joined the consortium, among them NVIDIA. Its goal is to pool resources and develop 3D display technology together.

Doom III In Virtual Reality

While doing some research for this article on the internet, we stumbled across a virtual reality solution for the game Doom 3. The package consists of the game itself, a head mounted display with a resolution of 800x600 pixels, a head tracking system, a VR joystick, and a force-feedback vest. The whole bundle goes for $1,485. More information is available at

Virtual Reality .

We can't tell you how well this system actually works with Doom III, what the other hardware requirements are, or whether this set is also compatible with other games. However, this example proves that 3D stereo is slowly but surely making inroads in the consumer market.

Possible Applications

There are quite a number of possible applications for 3D stereo technology, for instance:

  • Geology (analysis and appraisal of satellite images or maps)
  • 3D (Video) animations (presentation) and Digital Signage
  • Education
  • 3D workstations / CAD applications
  • Computer games and the gaming industry
  • Design and architecture applications
  • Medicine
  • Minimally Invasive MedicineSurgeryStereo endoscopyAngiographyPlastic surgeryMicroscopy
  • Military applications
  • Simulators and navigation (also possible for civilian applications)Areal Mapping (tactical maps, etc, also for Geological Sciences)Night vision navigation
  • Biochemical and chemical applications
  • X-ray CrystallographyComputational ChemistryMolecular Modeling
  • Air-traffic control

Obviously, this list is only meant to give you a general idea and is far from complete. The point is to show that a 3D display could make work much easier wherever spatial sense is required.