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Apple Wins Patent for Glasses-Free 3-D TV


3-D TV—a fad or the future? Apple's vote is for "future". The company's just won a patent on a glasses-free 3-D TV system that's so advanced it sounds like sci-fi. And not necessarily in a good way.

Apple applied for this patent back in 2006, but unlike much of the patent speculation that surrounds one of the world's most successful (and most sued) companies, this one has just been granted by the USPTO. 

Forget some of the clunky implementations of 3-D tech — the ones which require you to either wear glasses or sit in one of several sweet viewing spots. Apple's system relies upon a combined projector/screen/camera system to create its glasses-free imagery. Two separate images are beamed onto the textured pixels of a special screen, one for each eye of the viewer. The 3-D image can then be reconstructed, autostereographically, in the viewer's brain with no need for glasses. 

But Apple's system uses a camera to detect the facial position of viewers, and a dynamic projection system that's capable of beaming different images at the right angle so that each viewer receives a different 3-D effect. The result, according to Apple, is a "realistic holographic" visual experience, and also allows for 3-D "user input" via the camera—perhaps akin to MS's Kinect. 

Does this mean we can finally expect Apple to leap into the gaming console market, complete with a 3-D display system that'll knock the Xbox's socks off? Probably not. But the tech could certainly plug into future advertising plans, resulting in a very "personalized" 3-D video-ad experience that fans of that particular Tom Cruise movie will find very familiar. 

To read more news on this, and similar stuff, keep up with my updates by following me, Kit Eaton, on Twitter.

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  • fast745

    Could you please elaborate. How much better is the recently patented Apple's glasses-free 3D projection technology from this other glasses-free Projection 3D display that doesn't require computer rendering or tracking for multiple viewers reported by PhysOrg here: And also reported by DisplayDaily here: Looking at one of the figures in Apple's 3D patent it would seem that Apple's convex curved surface screen texture like that would spread the reflected pixel and cause the left eye pixels to mix with the right eye pixels resulting in crosstalk. Wouldn't it ? Because the physorg figure seems to separate the pixels more distinctly than a convex reflecting surface shown in Apple's patent would. Sorry I am just not as well versed in how all this works.

  • patent litigation

    I agree with Apple that watching 3D movies, TV, and other content with those glasses is anachronistic, and I congratulate Apple on this patent. It looks to me like 3D TVs and internet TVs will constitute much of the market for television in the near future. Apple's sure to eventually rake in quite a decent amount in patent enforcement revenue on this technology.