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3D Exploits 8K and Above at Display Week

By Bob Raikes

At the recent SID Display Week, one of the interesting trends was the number of 3D displays. These take advantage of the ability of display panel makers to make panels with 8K or even higher resolution. BOE showed two 16K panels that were demonstrating 3D.

The human perception system uses a lot of different ways to understand depth in a scene, but the most important is stereo vision. That is to say that each eye sees a slightly different point of view and the brain combines these images to give a sense of depth for most people. There are some people that never develop the ability to see in depth and if you are interested in this topic, you might enjoy reading ‘Fixing My Gaze‘, a fascinating description of the author’s journey into changing her visual perception from 2D to 3D.

You Need Two Images

Most people, though, rely mainly on two separate images to understand depth. That means that to see 3D most effectively, each eye has to be presented with a different image. Some years ago, TV makers experimented with 3D but they used special glasses to split the image. Some used time to split the images, with the TV showing alternate left and right images. Special glasses had to be used that were synchronized to these images to ensure that the correct eye saw the appropriate image. These were, unfortunately, not cheap and needed power. The TV makers also didn’t standardize them, so glasses from different brands would not work on other firms’ TVs. Some people were sensitive to the lower frame rate of the glasses, too, and saw some flicker.

LG had a system based on polarisation. In the LG TVs a special film was placed in front of the TV panel, with alternate lines being vertically and horizontally polarized. Glasses with differently polarized lenses could then be worn to split the images into left and right views. The glasses could be much lighter, cheaper and more comfortable than the active type, but there was concern that the vertical resolution of the image was halved. The system also needed careful alignment of the film and display, and reduced the vertical viewing angle.

In cinemas, there were also systems for 3D that used very slight color differences between the images with passive glasses using very fine optical filters to separate the images.

However, users did not like the glasses which tended to reduce the brightness of images (a particular challenge in cinemas) or resolution. So the quest has been on to develop 3D systems that do not need glasses – known as autostereoscopic or AS3D.

At Display Week 2024

At Display Week this year, the AS3D systems tended to use tracking cameras to analyse where the viewer’s eyes were looking to optimize the two images. As the user’s head moved, different views could be seen, giving a very good sense of depth as the user see different aspects of the scene when looking from different angles.

In this kind of AS3D system, the two images are directed towards each eye using lenses. Sometimes those lenses are fixed and sometimes they are controllable using, for example liquid crystals to create the lenses. A controllable system can switch between 2D and 3D.

The downside of these lens-based systems is that typically there is a relatively limited ‘sweet spot’ where the image is best viewed. If you are too near or too far from the display, the images don’t create 3D properly. If you track the user’s eye positions as firms did at Display Week, there is really only a single ‘sweet spot’ and only one viewer can see the 3D correctly.

If you create more pairs of views, you can support more viewers, with multiple sweet spots, but that has a couple of disadvantages. First, it reduces the resolution seen by each viewer. There are also visible artefacts as the viewer moves between the ‘sweet spots’ for each pair of views.

The existence of an optimum viewing distance for lens-based systems is not such a challenge in handheld or desktop applications, but is less satisfactory for TV viewing, for example. Automotive displays tend to have the driver’s eyes in a relatively small range of positions in space, so this is another area where there is interest in AS3D.

So Where Does 8K (or More) Come In?

The big advantage of 8K displays is that there are simply more pixels, so that if you want to create a single viewer system, you can provide 4K to each eye and that was being done at the show by Leia Inc. Leia has a strong base of knowledge as it acquired a company called Dimenco which was a spin-out from Philips, which was a pioneer in the field until it left the display industry. Leia had a 32″ monitor based on Dell’s 8K monitor that showed some particularly impressive content. The firm was given original material by James Cameron, from the making of Avatar, often cited as the best 3D cinema presentation. Leia told us that it is Dell’s biggest single customer for the 8K monitors!

Of course, the 3D effect of this display is not visible on the photo, but you can see the ‘ghosting’ from the two images on the near part of the solar cell. Image:Bob Raikes

At Display Week in 2024, BOE showed a 110″ 16K LCD that was used to create good looking 3D images, although it was very dependent on the viewing distance. The firm also showed what it said was a 16K 32″ display that was producing 4K per eye (although we couldn’t get a clear understanding becuase of language challenges!). BOE had also shown the 32″ at CES earlier this year, but again technical details were unclear.

3D – The Future?

In the end, a display is a way to get information out of a system and into a brain. If you don’t provide depth, you are losing some information. It seems inevitable that at some point in the future, displays will be 3D without the need for special glasses, but to get to this, you would need much more than 8K displays!

Also at Display Week, TCL CSOT showed a very good looking 8K 16″ notebook LCD. See our summary of other news from Display Week here.

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