Wednesday, February 6, 2008

3d TV without the Glasses

Philips has created a television that is capable of displaying 3D images without the need for the viewer to wear glasses. This new technology is WOWvx and it is marketed towards advertising agencies to be used in any place where a flat screen TV and possible consumers may come together. You may start to see these special televisions in department stores, subways, display windows and restaurants in the near future. Though promotional material released by Philips states that these TV's will break the boundaries of video games and movies as well, it may be some time before you have one of these in your home, and it won't necessarily be the price that is the deal breaker. Most viewers who stare at the screens for longer than your average run of commercials (3 or 4 minutes) state that the TV "messes" with their eyes. This could simply be because our brains aren't used to seeing 3D pop out of a flat panel without the aid of special glasses, which is actually rather cool, or maybe it is the method employed in creating the 3D image that bothers them. Maybe we just need to get accustomed to this new way of seeing things.

How Does it Work?:
WOWvx works by tricking the brain, which is becoming easier and easier to do. In front of the pixels of the screen is a sheet of transparent lenses that deflect the light at nine different angles ensuring that the left and right eyes see slightly different versions of the same image. The brain reconstructs these different 2d images into one single 3d one and creates a "Three Dimensional Visual Experience". Because the images are being projected at different angles and because each viewer may have slightly different spacing between their eyes, an "optimal" viewing distance is required. The stated optimal distance is ten to twelve feet. Changing the angle of view causes a slight distortion in the image as you move, but once you stop, the image comes back together as designed. This "new" technology is pretty much the same as that used with those stereoscopic or auto stereogram posters that were popular in the late nineties and early turn of the century. This is not much different than your favorite "View-Master" you had as a kid, which by the way is 65 years old now. Visit an antique store and you may find a late century (late 1800's that is) 3d viewer made of wood. This technology has been around for a while, Philip's has just been able to make it enjoyable by a crowd instead of one person.

What do we do with this?:
Humans love novelty and this new TV fulfills that need. This technology will be used for mainly commercial purposes and mainly in advertisement. The appeal may wear off as other 3D technologies arise to replace the mundane television screen all together, but there may actually be a bit of life in this for the next few years. If the technology no longer "messes" with peoples eyes, it may become mainstream. Many futurists think that one day we will interface directly with the computers and our brains which will render our eyes useless along with our archaic televisions. Until then though, 3D TV's may very well be used to draw in susceptible consumers and in some form (as long as we get used to it) will be viewable in video games, cell phones, and on our everyday television. No matter where it is used, it will be eye catching, and to some, eye aching.

The Living Room of the Future (1978) How close is it to today?

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