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Glasses-free 3D displays and mainstream computing

There is an important technology coming down the line that hasn’t got much press yet. People are well aware of 3D TV’s that require glasses to allow you to perceive depth effectively, but a number of companies are now developing cost-effective solutions that do not require glasses any more, for example Ultra-D and Dimenco.

Early glasses-free 3D TVs were highly compromised by the simple lenses they used, resulting in the viewer losing the 3D effects as they moved their heads around. The next generation of glasses-free technology has solved these problems and gives a truly immersive 3D experience.

Whilst this is certainly a step forward for consumer TV, what about computer displays? As these technologies mature over the coming years there is no reason why all computer displays (handhelds, laptops and desktop systems ), cannot not upgrade to real 3D as well. I believe it’s coming and I’d like to explain why.

Peripherals and Computing

Having studied the computer games industry for most of my life, I have observed that peripheral hardware never gets to the mainstream without a mass-user ‘killer app’ that heavily depends on the peripheral device to augment its experience. The only exception to this rule is for peripherals that are core to the OS such as the mouse for Mac and Windows.

Very often no major software really uses a peripheral device unless it becomes bundled with the standard hardware. So until one hardware manufacturer bites the bullet and bundles by default, the device never hits the main stream.

This is one of the reasons I think that manufacturers of glasses-dependent 3D will find it hard to engage people other than hardcore gamers or users of specific commercial applications (e.g. in healthcare and engineering). Apart from the fact that glasses are a cumbersome thing to wear, they don’t come as standard with a system. No large software project would commit to developing specific software for them unless they are paid to do so by the manufacturer. With no pre-existing installed base of hardware, it’s a chicken and egg issue.

Glasses free 3D screens and mainstream computing

So how will it happen? Well, we do know that some of the largest technology companies in the world such as Apple, Nintendo, Google, Facebook and Amazon have all been spending on research, development and filing patents in the areas of 3D and display technologies. Where these companies lead, everyone else follows.

Couple this with the fact that we know it is possible to have an affordable glasses-free 3D display, and then joining the dots is not hard.

Within a few years I feel fairly secure in saying that 3D screens are coming to your device. And added to this, the core OS will begin to be augmented to support visual depth information.

All computer devices are already enabled with powerful GPU’s for 3D rendering. So once the 3D screen is included, it’s not a big stretch for the desktop experience to be augmented with depth. For example, icons will be able to ‘float’ around the desktop background and drop shadows will appear around icons and windows. Depth will begin to be expressed as standard on desktops. This will be further augmented with head tracking and gyroscopic data to create parallax for proper depth-perception.

This coming revolution is very exciting for us at inSpace, as we are at the forefront of this revolution on the software side. We will to continue to pioneer our ideas of how a true ‘spatial desktop’ can work and aim to be 100% ready for when these screens come to the mass market.