Toshiba to show no-glasses 3D TV next week

Toshiba will unveil a 3D TV on Monday that doesn't require the viewer to wear glasses.

Televisions that can show 3D images have been on sale for less than a year from major manufacturers. All have required that the viewer wear a special pair of glasses.

The glasses are needed because each eye must be presented with a similar but slightly different image so the brain can be tricked into seeing depth where there is none.

In current 3D TVs, images for each eye are displayed rapidly one after the other. Filters in the glasses flash on and off in sync with the TV picture so the right eye sees one image and the left eye sees the next.

Toshiba’s new technology does away with the glasses.

Precise details of the technology won’t be revealed until Monday, but research by several other companies has relied on a filter placed on top of the TV screen. The filter sends a slightly different image to each eye.

With the filter, the 3D image is projected to a single spot in front of the TV, and the viewer needs to be in that sweet spot to see it. In the past, that’s proved a drawback because other viewers wouldn’t get the 3D effect. Some companies are trying to change that.

At Germany’s Cebit IT fair earlier this year Singapore’s Sunny Ocean Studios demonstrated a prototype filter that could send a 3D image to 64 positions around the screen, allowing for considerable flexibility in seating and the number of viewers. (Video of the screen is at YouTube.)

Earlier this year Japan’s Yomiuri Shimbun reported that Toshiba would have three TVs featuring the technology on sale in its home market before the end of 2010. One of the TVs will have a 21-inch screen, and will cost the equivalent of a few thousand U.S. dollars, the newspaper said.

Toshiba plans to give the new TVs their first public unveiling at next week’s Ceatec IT show, which begins on Tuesday in Chiba, near Tokyo.

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