3D computer graphics provides only a handful of cues to represent a virtual world: tricks of light and shadow, depth effects, culling of information outside of the view fustrum, and sorting the seen from the unseen with z-buffering. In reality, we see the world by combining the images formed by our left and right eye and get our perception of depth by viewing objects from two points separated by a few inches. Our brain takes care of the rest.
So, shouldn't a truly immersive 3D experience include a way of recreating binocular vision? The subject has vexed computer scientists since 1965 when Ivan Sutherland demonstrated the first head-mounted display (HMD). Dimension Technologies Inc. has a unique approach to 3D display technology that doesn't require cumberson headgear, or stereo glasses. DTI's 2015XLS is a step in the direction of making 3D displays a reality for consumption outside of the scientific visualization, simulation, and virtual reality fields.
Before we take a closer look at the 2015XLS it is worth pointing out that stereo displays have been around for a while. Research on 3D display technology has been taken on by companies such as Sharp, and Philips. You can find a lot of information about research being done at Philips Research at the group's 3D-LCD site (opens in new tab) . It's a good place to get some background on general research trends in 3D LCD technology.
DTI was started by Jesse Eichenlaub and Arnie Lagergren in 1986. The company has been selling stereoscopic 3D LCD displays since the late 80s, and there are hundreds in use around the world. Until the introduction of the low cost 15" 2015XLS, available since January of this year, most of DTI's customers were deep pockets organizations like NASA, the military, and large R&D facilities. The DTI displays were quite expensive (the 18" display retails for $6999), but the 15" brings real depth LCD displays down to a consumer price, making it a pretty exciting breakthrough.
Mike Doolin, a spokesman for DTI, wanted to emphasize DTI's technology leadership in this area, and told us, "DTI owns most of the world's major patents on 2D/3D LCD autostereoscopic imaging. There are 14 patents already issued, 6 more in process and a very large pile of other technologies/ideas/stuff on Jesse's desk that will get fed into the patent hopper as it is developed. The company with the next closest number of patents in this field has exactly one patent."
The fact of the matter is that DTI seems to be the first company to market with a relatively affordable 3D LCD display, and that's what piqued our interest. You can get much lower cost 15" LCD displays (as low as $500), but does the 3D functionality add the extra value? That's the question we tried to ask ourselves.