Laser system for 3D movies could make 3D glasses redundant

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In the near future, cinema-goers may not need to wear glasses to watch 3D films, thanks to a new laser system created by Austrian start-up company TriLite Technologies in conjunction with Vienna University of Technology.

The new device sends laser beams in different directions, and presents hundreds of different pictures to each eye to create a 3D effect. It is expected that the first commercial system will be available in 2016, ready for use in cinemas, at sporting events and for targeted advertisements.

A first prototype of the laser system has been created with a modest resolution of five pixels by three. Now that the team has proved that the device works, however, it will be a simple process to scale up the technology, explained Jörg Reitterer of TriLite Technologies and PhD-student at the Vienna University of Technology: ‘We are creating a second prototype, which will display colour pictures with a higher resolution. But the crucial point is that the individual laser pixels work. Scaling it up to a display with many pixels is not a problem.’

Every single 3D-Pixel − or ‘Trixel’ − in the system consists of lasers and a moveable mirror. ‘The mirror directs the laser beams across the field of vision, from left to right. During that movement the laser intensity is modulated so that different laser flashes are sent into different directions,' said Professor Ulrich Schmid from the Vienna University of Technology.

To experience the 3D effect, however, the viewer must be positioned in a certain distance range from the screen. If the distance is too large, both eyes receive the same image and only a normal 2D picture can be seen. The range in which the 3D effect is experienced can be tuned according to the local requirements.

Unlike current 3D cinema systems which only show two different pictures, one for each eye, the new laser device can present hundreds of pictures. This allows viewers to pass by the screen and view the displayed object from different angles, as if they were passing a real object; a desirable feature not just for cinema but for targeted advertisements. For example, electronic billboards could display different advertisements that can be seen from different angles. ‘Maybe someone wants to appeal specifically to the customers leaving the shop across the street, and a different ad is shown to the people waiting at the bus stop,’ says Ferdinand Saint-Julien, CEO of TriLite Technologies.

And, because the display is very vivid, it can be used outdoors, even in bright sunlight, making it ideal for use at sporting events.

The technology has now been patented and presented in several scientific publications. The second prototype should be finished by the middle of the year, with the commercial launch scheduled for 2016.

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Further Information

TriLite Technologies