Image via Dimenco
Many thanks to Dimenco CEO Maarten Tobias (www.dimenco.eu) for talking to Display Alliance about the 3D display industry. Give Dimenco a like on Facebook. To be interviewed by Display Alliance or feature your own content email firstname.lastname@example.org. Subscribe via RSS for our display industry news roundups. We can also help you source display panels. Leave a comment and share your thoughts on the interview.
DA: What is the biggest technical obstacle to glasses-free 3D and how is Dimenco taking on the challenge?
Resolution, Cone Transitions, Content
Glasses-free 3D displays have had 3 main obstacles to overcome.
1) Resolution: By applying a lenticular layer to generate multiple views on top of a LCD panel you lose a significant amount of resolution. The result was that with "traditional" FHD panels (1920 by 1080) you experienced, depending on the lens design and image processing, a SD image quality in 3D. With the introduction of QFHD panels (3840 by 2560) it is possible to overcome this problem as you can realize with the right lens design and image processing a FHD 3D picture. This FHD 3D image is impressive to watch and provide the "right" consumer experience.
2) Cone transitions: Traditional auto-stereoscopic displays always had annoying cone transitions. This means you have to be in the right zone for a comfortable 3D experience. With the recent introduction of smooth cone transitions by Dimenco it solves almost completely the cone transition which makes it much more comfortable and enjoyable to watch glasses-free 3D for a long period of time.
3) Content: Glasses-free 3D displays depend on multiple perspectives that are "sent" out to the viewer. Meaning stereo 3D (with glasses) is based on a left and right picture (2-view) which provides the necessary parallax. Glasses-free 3D displays require multiple perspectives, in Dimenco’s case 28, which has to be generated. Dolby3D, an initiative by Philips and Dolby, is integrating algorithms that will make it possible to convert in real-time stereo (2-view) to auto-stereo (n-view), resulting in overcoming the barrier of existing 3D content becoming available for glasses-free 3D.
DA: Can you put 3D display technology into historical perspective? What does it say about the evolution of display technology?
3D Displays: Three Centuries In The Making
3D technology already existed in the 19th century. However it really took off in 2009.
The reason for this was on the one hand the technological possibilities of digital processing / media, availability of content (Avatar), and display technology. It started in digital cinema where the difficulty to create a high-quality 3D image was presented. It then got to the TV market with high refresh rates making it possible to introduce active glasses, especially on Plasma.
Glasses-free 3D will depend heavily on higher resolution panels which will be widely available in 2013 and prices will go down rapidly in 2014. Expecting glasses-free 3D TV’s being available in 2013 as high-end TV’s and getting more widely spread from 2014 onwards.
DA: Can you talk about what goes into marketing 3D displays? What does the industry need to do to make 3D succeed in the market?
Practical Application Is Key To 3D's Success
Marketing of 3D displays depends heavily on the market segment.The TV industry is a totally different segment than the professional PRO-AV market.
For example the TV market is dominated by the industry and often technologies are pushed to the consumer. Glasses-based 3D is a perfect example of this.
However that is also the reason that 3D in the consumer market has not been a success by now. The PRO-AV market is dominated by applications and the added value of 3D in such applications. If 3D adds to the experience, provides better or more clearer information (such as in Medical or in Visualization applications), or enhances the consumer behavior (3D Digital Signage), then it can be accepted by these markets.
DA: What is Dimenco working on right now?
High Volume Manufacturing
Dimenco is actually setting up different components and manufacturing processes for the market.
This means for example that we can provide lenses in high volume manufacturing. This is a cooperation between us and a third party. In this case we jointly developed the process and quality of the optical stack which results in the purest optical stack, but also to provide this in really high volumes.
Next to this, we offer manufacturing processes and equipment to optically bond lenticulars (glass) to LCD-panels. Our facility is able to process about 10K per year, depending on size.
High Resolution Panels
We are mainly working on very high resolution panels. As explained one of the challenges is the lack of resolution. With more and more QFHD displays and Retina displays being introduced in the market, the quality and accessibility of glasses-free 3D will be also much better. At CES we will demonstrate some of these new incredible demonstrators.