‘3D Viewing’ – The Evolution and the Path Ahead

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Stereoscopy, often interchangeably used and associated with 3D viewing, is a technique used to enable a three-dimensional effect, adding an illusion of depth to a flat image and facilitating 3-D viewing.

Human vision (including the perception of depth) is a complex process that begins right from the point when light emanating or reflecting from any object enters the human eye.  Following the reception of light (signal), complex processes are carried out in the brain. The brain, in co-ordination with the eye, strives to make intelligent and meaningful sense of the raw information it receives. Essential to the brain interpreting what the eyes see is assessing the relative distances of various objects from which light is received by the eye of the viewer, and the depth dimension of those same perceived objects.

A stereoscope is a device for viewing a stereoscopic pair of separate images, depicting left-eye and right-eye views of the same scene, as a single three-dimensional image. The first patented stereo viewer was Sir Charles Wheatstone’s reflecting stereoscope in 1838. The device was a bulky and complicated contraption that utilized a system of mirrors to view a series of pairs of crude drawings. 3D viewing since has come a long way.

A 19th century Stereoscope made by Sir Wheatstone. Source: http://resumbrae.com/ub/dms423/21/

One can today see the ubiquitous presence of 3D viewing. 3D is used and employed in a variety of fields of digital imaging – reality environments, movies and cinema, mobile phones, gaming, and even art (A few contemporary artists use stereography as an expressive medium!!)

3D viewing is based on two basic techniques. First, Stereoscopy, sometimes called stereoscopic imaging, is a technique used to enable a three-dimensional effect, adding an illusion of depth to a flat image. Second, Autostereoscopic display technologies use optical components in the display, rather than worn by the user, to enable each eye to see a different image. Because headgear is not required, it is also called “glasses-free 3D”.

3D viewing has also come to become an important technology field with respect to Intellectual Property (IP). The number of patents specific to ‘3D’ is burgeoning. The number presently is in excess of 2000 granted patents (US Geography) with a large number of pending applications too.  The granted patents also contain various strong litigation candidates. The application of these patents can be directly seen in gaming technologies (sensing based gaming concepts), mobile phones (e.g. – HTC Evo 3D, LG Optimus 3D, and others) and other direct applications. The future for ‘3D’ looks bright and promises to hold a next ‘aha’ moment in Digital Imaging.

(Featured image source: http://resumbrae.com/ub/dms423/21/)

Pranav Sharma
Pranav Sharma

Pranav is an absolute patent geek who enjoys toying with numbers and off-beat topics in his blogs. A fan of Sir Alex Ferguson’s managerial prowess, his blogs reflect on tech concerns and offer probable solutions.


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