Although three-dimensional screens have
been around in different forms for decades, they generally have downsides.
Some types require glasses, and those that don't usually cannot be viewed
from much more than a 15-degree angle or are fairly dim.
Researchers from Seoul National University in Korea have showed
that using curved lenses doubles the viewing angle of three-dimensional
integral imaging systems without sacrificing brightness.
The technique could eventually be used for three-dimensional billboards
and three-dimensional television, according to the researchers.
Integrated imaging systems project sections of images through
an array of lenses. The sections are combined, or integrated, at a point
in front of the display to produce a 3D image. These displays have a limited
viewing angle because the image sections must be wider the farther they
are from the center of the display, and can be only so wide before they
The researchers' prototype uses a lens array that is curved rather
than flat. This increase is the viewing angle because the lenses are angle
around the viewer, which helps keep the image sections proportional.
There is some work to be done before the method is ready for prime
time, however, according to the researchers. In order to present an image
free of gaps between image sections, the screen must be slightly curved
as well. Technologies like plastic electronics and electronic paper are
poised to deliver flexible screens.
The technique could be used in applications like three-dimensional
advertising displays within two to four years. Three-dimensional television
systems are at least a decade away, according to the researchers. The
work appeared in the February 9, 2004 issue of Optics Express.
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