3D TV minus the glasses, thanks to new software

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Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Telecommunications, Heinrich Hertz Institute (HHI) in Berlin have developed a new image processing technique that allows people to watch 3D TV without having to wear 3D glasses. The technology enables viewers to watch full 3D-quality video, even at different distances from the screen, without glasses.

Manufacturers of auto-stereoscopic 3D TVs, i.e. those that don’t require glasses, prescribe optimal viewing distances for a high quality image. A change in viewing position will result in loss of depth and image resolution.

The technology developed at Fraunhofer HHI is based on algorithms that shift any image distortion created by different viewing positions. Individual sub-pixels for the display are re-calculated by the algorithm whenever the viewer changes position. The viewer can move not only forwards and backwards, but sideways as well, without any distortions in the images forming or images jumping back and forth between 3D views.

‘Until now, this could only be accomplished by a very expensive mechanical means. The new digital processing works faster and more robustly,’ said Klaus Hopf, HHI group manager for Man-Machine Interaction. ‘In developing the electronic version, we benefitted from technological progress in image resolution and image processing software.’

The technique has been optimised for multi-view 3D displays, allowing up to five people to watch 3D content at a distance of 30cm to 6m without impairing the apparent depth and image resolution. Multi-view 3D displays are able to provide several different viewing points so that several users can experience the effect without wearing stereo viewing glasses.

The freedom of movement attained enables viewing auto-stereoscopic displays on desktops, watching television or viewing displays in public spaces.

‘Glasses-free 3D systems are currently beginning to be used in medicine, research, and industrial applications. The new software can also provide new impetus for introducing the technology into the home or in advertising,’ commented Hopf.

Hopf will be exhibiting the technique at the IFA international consumer electronics trade fair in Berlin from 6-11 September.

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