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Regardless of your thoughts on the effectiveness that 3D has on a feature film, we can all pretty much agree on one thing: 3D glasses suck. Their bulky, uncomfortable, and have the effect of wearing sunglasses indoors. And let's not even talk about the pain in the ass they are for people like me who wear prescription glasses. Because of this problem, the obvious next evolution for 3D technology is the elimination of the glasses. Complicated as that might seem, it would appear that the technology now exists.
According to MIT News - the news site for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology - a team of researchers part of the Camera Culture group at the MIT Media Lab have been working to refine a design for a projector that can create "glasses-free, multi-perspective, 3D video." The idea behind the development of the technology is to find a system that can replace holographic video, which currently is expensive and unpractical for widespread usage. While the official reveal won't happen until Siggraph - the computer graphics and interactive techniques conference and exhibition that will be held in Vancouver, Canada this August - some details are being revealed now.
The tech uses multiple LCD layers and for each frame it can project six different patterns that can be perceived from eight different vantage points. This means that the image will appear to change as you walk around the screen, just like how you perceive things in the real world. You can watch a highly technical breakdown of the specialized screen as well as a demonstration of how it works in the video below:
While this is definitely a huge step forward in the world of 3D technology, I'll be curious to see how it can be implemented in movie theaters. Based on what's available to read about the projector and what I see in the video, it would appear that the most effective way to view this kind of 3D is by actually walking around it and seeing the images from as many angles as possible - thus getting the full effect. While it could be a very cool demonstration tool, I don't know how great it would be if you're just sitting and looking at it from one angle for two hours. I would imagine the next step for this kind of projector would be to create an unlimited number of viewable angles so that you can see the 3D effect just by turning your head slightly.