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Can You Watch 3-D without 3-D Glasses? Toshiba Thinks So

Toshiba Glassless 3-D TVsFounded on an idea Reiko Fukushima had nine years ago, coming back to work after maternity leave, Toshiba is now leading the charge on supplying the world’s first “naked-eye” 3-D TV. Recently covered in an interview with Fukushima in The New York Times, the progress of these developing technologies has done two things in Japan – sparked new heights for high-tech women researchers in that country and given confidence to all who were skeptical that a “naked-eye” technology could ever be developed.

Toshiba itself was skeptical when Fukushima first presented them the idea, but now last October at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the prototype of the 3-D TV was unveiled. It was always clear to Fukushima that 3-D glasses would have to go in order for the technology to truly take off, and her approach to the problem was to develop an algorithm that drew on a Toshiba imaging processor, named the “Cell,” to display nine different images for each frame. A sheet on the TV screen, called a “perpendicular Lenticular Sheet,” angles each image so the right eye can only see images intended for the right eye and the left eye can only see images for the left eye. The TV “screen” is actually an HD LCD display and completely unlike any 3-D TV display that has come before it.

The major hurdle for this new technology, however, is making the 3-D images work when viewed from wide angles. This issue is still being thought out, and the current models being released work best when viewed from within a 40-degree zone.  (Again, noting Walter Murch’s recent thoughts on 3-D technology)

There are only two Toshiba “glassless” 3-D TVs available now, a 12-inch screen for $1,200 and a 20-inch screen for $2,400. Toshiba claims that both TVs are for “personal usage.” The way the 40-degree viewing zone works out for these two models is a viewing distance of 35.4 inches for the 20-inch model and 25.6 inches for the 12-inch screen. Neither of these 3-D TVs would likely work well for a TV lift cabinet simply based on the small screen size and close viewing proximity, but with Fukushima and Toshiba clearly on the right path, perhaps it won’t be too long before affordable “glassless” 3-D TVs hit the shelves and you can bring one home to your pop-up TV cabinet.

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