Sony's released some information about a prototype 3-D display it'll be demonstrating at the Digital Contents Expo in Tokyo this thursday--and among the sparse details the most promising tidbit is that this screen needs no special glasses.
The unit is just 27cm high and some 13cm across, and its display is only capable of showing 96 by 128 pixel images--though it is just a prototype. Sony's confident the technology can scale up easily though, and the description in the press release forsees it being useful in "digital signage, exhibition events, three-dimensional medical image visualization, web shopping, virtual pets, art appreciation [...] three-dimensional photo frame" and even the long-sought 3-D TV and videophone.
The main advantage of the system over the upcoming wave of 3-D TV and PC systems is that to get the third-dimension through stereoscopic images via your two eyes you don't need to wear any goggles. Sony's quite coy about how the tech works. But since the illumination system is labelled as LED, and the unit's cylindrical we can give it a good guess: It's possibly a fast-rotating flat LED matrix display, which uses persistence of vision to create a volumetric image you can perceive in three dimenstions.
It's viewable from 360 degrees, by multiple people simultaneously, and if it works as we suspect it does, it shouldn't be too expensive. That means if Sony's careful with the pricing it really could turn into the kind of display toy we see in our homes soon--as long as there's supporting technology to enable us to actually snap family photos and so on in 3-D: The system would be pretty useless without content.