Microsoft’s Wedge Lens Technology

All these days people used to wear special glasses to watch 3D Dimensional content-be it the movies or cartoon or what not. Here’s some good news. The Microsoft Applied Sciences team has done it again. Recently,the group has successfully developed a new lens which can be used to watch 3D content without special glasses.

Description of the new technology:

The alternative used by the team is a a lens that is very thin at the bottom (6mm approx.) when compared to the upper portion (11mm approx.). This lens is used to steer light to the spectator’s eyes through a Light Emitting Diode(LED) which is placed along it’s bottom edge. The 3D display uses a camera to track the content viewers so that it knows where exactly to steer the light . This idea is not a new one. Earlier,the CPU power required was very large and not affordable but now this technology requires only less CPU power and it is easy to pull it off on a large scale.

Working of this technology:

Traditional lenses that are found in the projectors are placed between a point of light and it’s focal point which has been making viewer tracking 3D systems unaffordable and bulky. The design of Microsoft’s Wedge lens has by-passed this problem as the light travels only within the lens and not in the air medium. As a result of this, the surface of the wedge becomes the focal point and this sharply minimizes the distance between the projector and the screen. The LED perfectly controls the position and the angle of the light as it enters the bottom edge of the lens and also the direction in which the light comes out. In the meanwhile, the viewer tracking cameras collect all the light travelling the other way through the lens. The system’s viewing angle is about 20 degrees but Microsoft hopes for producing even better results-tweaking the lens to a 40 degree angle which is still being reviewed.

Advantages of this technology:

Various other companies have demonstrated off 3D displays which don’t require glasses but those equipments often make use of lenticular lenses which are directly integrated into the display and project different images in two fixed directions. As a result the viewer need to be in a particular designated zone to experience the 3D effect. However, Microsoft’s prototype of the display can successfully deliver the 3D effect to two viewers at the same instant by presenting different images to their left and right eyes such that one video is seen in each eye regardless of the position of the viewer. This system can also show ordinary 2 dimensional (2D) videos for upto four people simultaneously such that each person sees one video.

Since the lens is very thin, it can easily be incorporated into a standard Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) by replacing the traditionally used backlight, that shines through through the liquid crystals and projects the images to the viewers.

Ongoing research:

The picture quality is limited by the screen’s refresh rate and so Microsoft is urging display manufacturers to make faster LCDs. The company is also looking into how the lens can be used as a backlight of laptops that will be capable of projecting images to either one person or to multiple people.

Microsoft has done it once again by producing a very advanced and useful technology for the movie and the gaming industries. R&D in this technology may bring 3D games that can be played on a PC or a video game.

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