CES 2011: Toshiba to Showcase Glasses-free 3D

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3D has been one of the major buzzwords in 2010, and for good reason: this year has, perhaps unsurprisingly, seen the release of more 3D-enabled movies and video games than any time previously. Experiencing all that content has been a chore, however, thanks to bulky and expensive glasses.  Until now. 

Toshiba Glasses-free 3dThe Wall Street Journal is detailing Toshiba’s plans to unveil what they’re calling the “world’s first glasses-free 3D TV.”  This isn’t quite true, as there have been a number of glasses-free 3D displays shown off in the past. Some were even in use at E3 to show off 3D content this summer in LA.

Toshiba is likely correct, however, in that the new models will be the first mass-produced consumer models that can offer 3D functionality without requiring glasses.

There are a number of ways companies can produce autostereoscopic (3D, without the glasses) displays – Sharp’s parallax displays, like those used in its mobile handhelds and the upcoming Nintendo 3DS, are only feasible in small form factors due to their ultra-limited viewing angles. 

Inside of the TVs sits a perpendicular lenticular sheet that renders perceived movement across its surface. The 3D Regzas are capable, when combined with Toshiba’s imaging engine (the larger 20-inch TV uses a Cell CPU), of producing nine distinct parallax images.  

Those viewing angle problems pose a challenge, and are why most of Toshiba’s competitors haven’t been promising 3D-capable displays without also requiring $100-plus active shutter glasses.  

Still, the company seems to believe they’re on the right track as 12-inch models of the new displays go on sale this week, with 20-inch units soon to follow.  As for desktop monitors, it’s clear that they will inevitably be targeted.

It might take some time, however, since most monitors are only used by one person at a time, and since most 3D displays come bundled with a pair of active shutter glasses, 3D gamers aren’t quite feeling the same early adopter tax as 3D HDTV buyers are.




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