Researchers Create Glasses-Free 3D For Cinema Screens

Researchers at MIT have successfully managed to create a new system for glasses-free 3D cinema screens – aptly named Cinema 3D.

Love or hate them, 3D movies are here to stay – squeezing more money out of every cinema trip and giving you a headache in the process, all for a pair of polarizing glasses that dull the colour and vibrancy of the movie…

As you can tell, I’m very much in the latter category, which is why I’m happy to see some changes – namely waving goodbye to the millions of plastic glasses, the production of which significantly affects the environment, and hello to a 3DS-esque glasses-free cinematic experience.

So how does it work?

As explained in a new paper from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab and the Weizmann Institute of Science’s Computer Vision Lab, it’s all about mirrors and lenses.

Watch how this technology works!

Normal 3D glasses work by filtering out polarized light with their lenses, known as parallax barriers, presenting each eye with two of the same image from slightly different perspectives. Your brain does the work by mapping these two perspectives together into one 3D image.

With Cinema 3D, however, the researchers take advantage of the fact that you are sat in one position throughout, with multiple parallax barriers applied across the screen. Then, a huge array of mirrors and lenses reproduce that same 3D effect to the specific angles of a cinema-going audience – meaning every person will get an identical 3D visual experience, regardless of location.

So just imagine… In the future, you can sit down and watch Star Wars in 3D without a pair of polarized glasses blocking your view. Kind of like a 3DS but on a WAY BIGGER scale.

Cool! When can I try it out?

Probably not for a while, and don’t expect this technology to come to your living room…

So far, the team have just got a prototype working on a screen that’s “just barely large than a pad of paper,” which requires a whopping 50 sets of lenses and mirrors. Fair to say for a bigger scale, they either need more lenses and mirrors or a different approach.

And since this tech takes advantage of every person being sat down in one place, the effect is broken for anybody who moves around. That means you shouldn’t expect to see this effect on your home TV, ever.

Researchers hope to keep improving on these issues, with the hope to reach a large enough scale for the cinema.