Toshiba's 24-inch 3D display. The can on the bottom right is real.
Toshiba's 24-inch 3D display. The can on the bottom right is real.
[Click to enlarge image]

Toshiba Corp. has developed a display technology allowing 3D images to be viewed on a flatbed display. All the various conventional 3D displays developed thus far have been upright displays. By switching the way displays are placed, "We can offer a realistic touch of depth," said a company spokesperson.

According to Toshiba, viewers "feel odd" when presented with 3D images that stand out only about a few centimeters from the surface of a display, due to their preconception that there is infinite space spreading behind the display. On the contrary, "stereoscopic images with the same height could look more natural" on this flatbed display, because viewers think that there is nothing ahead of the display. With this more realistic effect, Toshiba believes that "3D displays will change from something interesting into a must have tool."

To create the flatbed 3D display, Toshiba designed both hardware and software to overcome the unnatural feeling caused by the difference in the distances from the eye to the nearer and further edges of a display. By projecting multiple images of an object seen from different angles, the technology allows viewers to perceive 3D images without wearing special glasses. The prototype can project either 12 or 16 horizontal images of an object. In a typical method used to create a 3D image, different images are projected to each eye. However, stereoscopic images become disrupted when the viewer changes his eye location from the specified point. The new technology allows viewers to horizontally move their eyes to see the object from other angles. The prototype is designed to allow a view angle of 30 degrees side-to-side.

A low-temperature polycrystalline Si-TFT LCD panel was used in the prototype, but a company spokesperson said, "We can use other panel technologies that meet both high-resolution and low-cost targets." The prototype comes in 24-inch and 15.4-inch panels. The panel itself has a resolution of 1920 x 1080, but it could decrease to "the level of analog TV," such as 480 x 300 and 480 x 400, depending on the projected stereoscopic image. In principle, a displayed resolution does not change even if a 3D display is switched to a 2D display.

Hiroshi Asakura, Nikkei Microdevices