Apple developing glasses-free 3D technology?

By Sean O’Connell It is the biggest complaint of the recent 3D revival: Audience members (particularly children) hate wearing the glasses.

Speaking from my own experiences, my 7-year-old son watches three-dimensional animated movies while holding the bottom of his glasses so that the lenses don’t rest on his cheeks, while my 3-year-old boy skips the glasses altogether, preferring a blurry image to the uncomfortable spectacles.

Since 3D technology doesn’t appear to be going away, Hollywood needs to do something about the glasses. That’s actually happening.

Apple reportedly has been developing an innovative display screen that “produces three dimensional and even holographic images without the need for glasses,” according to the Daily Telegraph.

If this technology comes to pass, it could be implemented into future television sets, computer monitors and movie theaters, giving audience members “a more realistic experience” without the need for clunky glasses.

More from the Telegraph story:

The system relies upon a special screen that is dotted with tiny pixel-sized domes that deflect images taken from slightly different angles into the right and left eye of the viewer.

By presenting images taken from slightly different angles to the right and left eye, this creates a stereoscopic image that the brain interprets as three-dimensional.

Apple also proposes using 3D imaging technology to track the movements of multiple viewers and the positions of their eyes so that the direction the image is deflected by the screen can be subtly adjusted to ensure the picture remains sharp and in 3D.

When might this be available? Well, 3D televisions are set to hit the market in 2011. But Apple’s patent likely requires more research and development before it becomes a reality.

“At present, Apple seems an unlikely company to get into the 3D TV business, which is struggling, but if Apple cracks the technology it could help make 3D the dominant display technology,” said Leander Kahney, a consumer technology expert and author of the Cult of Mac. “It certainly does away with the biggest problem – the 3D glasses. As well as watching 3D movies, Apple’s system would have a ton of applications in science, engineering, design and education, while 3D iPhones and iPads would be killer. It’s easy to imagine things like amazing 3D textbooks and instructional videos. 3D gaming on an iPad would be an incredibly immersive gaming experience.”

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