CES has come and gone and chances are if you’ve seen any of the convention’s media coverage you’ve heard that 3D technology is the hot new trend for 2010. Nearly every TV manufacturer from Sony to Toshiba and from LG to Panasonic is making a 3D-capable TV, while many computer manufacturers are adapting the technology to their monitors and laptops. But how does it work? How do you turn an image in a two-dimensional medium into a three-dimensional experience?
3D pictures can be created a number of different ways, although many of these methods typically fall into one of four categories: anaglyph images, polarization, alternate-frame sequencing, and autostereoscopy.
Anaglyph images are made up of two differently colored layers that have been superimposed on each other. Slightly offset to give the illusion of depth, these layers are then filtered through “color coded” glasses – usually cyan and red – to reveal a three-dimensional picture.
Polarized 3D images are typically created by using two synced projectors that display different perspectives of the same scene. Each projector uses a slightly different polarizing lens and a special pair of glasses worn by the viewer then restricts which image is allowed into each eye.
This method of 3D imaging is achieved by filming with two cameras from slightly different perspectives, just like polarization. Individual frames from each camera are pieced together in an alternating order (left camera, right camera, left camera, right camera, etc.) and the combined film is run at twice the normal frame rate. The audience then wears special glasses with an active shutter system that opens and closes each lens in rapid succession.
Unlike other traditional methods, autostereoscopy does not require the use of special glasses. Instead, it relies upon the use of an array of magnifying lenses or a “grated” panel called a parallax barrier that is built into the display itself. Depending on the observer’s viewing position, their eyes will each perceive a different picture, resulting in a 3D image.
Now, while no industry-wide standard for creating 3D TVs has been established yet, consumers can think of the models shown at this year’s CES as a sign of what may come. Just make sure to keep checking back with us as more information and more models become available!