I just finished reading a piece in Technology Review about Microsoft's Applied Sciences Group who are working to make glasses-free 3-D a reality. Interesting…it’s not going to make me like Avatar any more but 3D without the glasses would be a result of dorktastic proportions.
One of my challenges at Microsoft is keeping up with all the stuff that is going on so no surprise that this was a new one on me. TR explains that this new lens that is being developed is thinner at the bottom than at the top. This allows light to be steered to a viewer's eyes by switching light-emitting diodes along its bottom edge on and off. What does that mean? TR goes on to explain
Combined with a backlight, this makes it possible to show different images to different viewers, or to create a stereoscopic (3-D) effect by presenting different images to a person's left and right eye.
The lens is about 11 millimetres thick at its top, tapering down to about six millimetres at the bottom. TR explains how it works
An optical trick means that light enters through the edge, bounces around inside the lens (much as if it were in a fiber-optic cable), and, when the light has bounced enough times to reach a specific angle (known as the "critical angle"), it exits through the front of the lens. Bathiche says that the specialized lens design, which includes a rounded, thicker end, dictates how the light bounces around and when and where it can escape
It’s another one of those things that is better seen (ha ha) that read about so check out the video above and you can see a tonne more videos at the Applied Sciences Group site. They show large area LCD displays with very thin form factors (<2" optics, 40" diagonal) which allow simultaneous display and capture of touch and gesture on and above the surface. Tonnes of potential.