Apple Is Developing Glasses-Free 3D Technology

     December 28, 2010


Apple has been working on a device that allows the viewer to view a 3D image without those pesky glasses.  The invention uses a screen that deflects images taken from slightly different angles into each eye to create a stereoscopic image which the brain converts into three dimensions.

The technology will likely first be implemented with computer displays, and the iPad seems like the ideal launching… pad.  The brass ring is an entirely holographic live-action movie, though such a feat will require new filmmaking techniques to capture the actors from all the necessary angles.

Hit the jump for an excerpt from a recently granted patent, which offers a level of detail way beyond my technological comprehension.

The Telegraph provides the patent excerpt [via Vulture]:


An exceptional aspect of the invention is that it can produce viewing experiences that are virtually indistinguishable from viewing a true hologram.

Such a ‘pseudo-holographic’ image is a direct result of the ability to track and respond to observer movements.

By tracking movements of the eye locations of the observer, the left and right 3D sub-images are adjusted in response to the tracked eye movements to produce images that mimic a real hologram.

The invention can accordingly continuously project a 3D image to the observer that recreates the actual viewing experience that the observer would have when moving in space around and in the vicinity of various virtual objects displayed therein. This is the same experiential viewing effect that is afforded by a hologram.

It allows the observer, for example, to move around a virtual object and top observe multiple sides from different angles.

Nintendo will release the Nintendo 3DS,  a portable video game console which promises glasses-free 3D in early 2011.  The summer announcement focuses on the gaming possibilities, but includes claims you’ll be able to view How to Train Your Dragon, Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole, and Tangled on the device in 3D.

The cool thing about reporting on patented technology is the knowledge that it is unique in some way.  Maybe Apple scales up the Nintendo technology, or provides greater opportunity for non-animated features.  The point is: we’re one step closer.

In November, 3D spokesperson and sometimes director James Cameron suggested 3D without glasses was “eight to ten years away.”  By that time, the battle may already have been lost.  Case in point: this montage of the endless* studio boasts of 3D over the past couple years [via The Daily What]:

*Often “endless” means “not remotely countable.”  In this instance, it means “37.”


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