Microsoft viewer-tracking display promises glasses-free 3D

Microsoft's Applied Sciences Group – which concentrates on bringing together optics, electronics and software to create new human/computer interfaces – have developed a new type of wedge-shaped lens that can show different images to different viewers, and create 3D visuals without requiring special glasses.  Up to four different 2D images can be sustained at any one time, or 3D footage for two people (a different image for each eye), using a camera to track viewers' eyes.

According to Microsoft's Steve Bathiche, director of the Applied Sciences Group, "what's so special about this lens is that it allows us to control where the light goes." The lens tapers from 11mm at the top to 6mm at the bottom, and can replace the backlight panel of a traditional LCD display; at the base are various LEDs, controlled by the eye-tracking system, as well as the cameras themselves.

With a 240Hz LCD panel, the system can project four 60Hz views; Microsoft are talking with LCD manufacturers in the hope that they will produce faster panels, so that more concurrent viewers can be supported.  In addition to glasses-free 3D, Microsoft believe the technology could be used to make switchable privacy screens, that could toggle between broad viewing angles for multiple users and a private mode in which only the main user could see the display.  Check out the video demo here.

[via Technology Review]