Successful development of original technolgies of glasses-free 3D displays

KIST(Sung-kyu Kim, Senior Researcher of Imaging Media R&D Team)

In 2009, the famous 3D movie “Avatar” enjoyed huge popularity and motivated the display industry to develop 3D display technologies and promote commercialization. https://korean-electronics.com//inquiryHowever, 3D displays failed to be a major trend due to the need to wear special glasses. Still, there is a reasonable prospect that 3D display, close to reality, will become a trend in the future, which calls for glasses-free 3D display technologies with improved convenience. In such circumstances, the Imaging Media R&D Team led by Dr. Sung-Kyu Kim, KIST (Korea Institute of Science and Technology), has succeeded in developing original technologies allowing viewers to enjoy 3D displays without wearing special glasses and compromising resolution.

Development of technologies that can minimize the key
matters happening in glasses-free 3D displays

The 3D movie “Avatar,” which enjoyed huge global popularity when released, drew people’s attention to 3D display and this, in turn, motivated major companies in the area to develop 3D display technologies and to promote commercialization using special glasses. As a result, the market introduced advanced TVs offering 3D features during the World Cup in June 2010.
In three years, however, 3D TVs failed to become a major trend, instead remaining merely as an additional feature due to inconvenience caused by the need to wear glasses. Still, there is a reasonable prospect that 3D display close to reality will become a trend in the future along with media development, which calls for glasses-free 3D display technologies with improved convenience.

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Thus, major companies in the market have intensified their efforts to develop glasses-free 3D display including those in Korea. But such 3D displays present a few problems including optical noise of 3D image, low resolution, and limited field of view, and so forth, presenting an obstacle to commercialization.
In such circumstances, Imaging Media R&D Team, KIST, led by Dr. Sung-Kyu Kim, has developed original technologies which can minimize the three major problems found in glasses-free 3D displays, laying the foundation for commercialization of the technology, while proving Korea’s strong presence in the display industry.

Precious fruit of 15-year R&D efforts

Dr. Sung-Kyu Kim, who led the project, began to work on and classify such problems of glasses-free 3D displays even 15 years ago, predicting considerable inconvenience of special 3D glasses when he first started his study on 3D technologies. In particular, the team tested two approaches in order to overcome and minimize the three major problems at once.
“The first approach is to detect the eyes of a viewer in real time with a camera and use 3D coordinates of the eyes,” said Dr. Kim. “We have developed methods and demonstration systems for optical 3D image and resolution, comparable to that of the previous glasses-based method, and expanded field of view in the real-time tracked area. Compared with the existing display products of a global Japanese manufacturer, the technology proved to remain competitive through qualitative and quantitative 3D optical characteristics measurements.”

Untitled-5.jpg“Furthermore, even the non-tracking method without using information on the face of a viewer could not only reduce optical noise in 3D images but also expand the field of view,” added Dr. Kim. “These two approaches can be applied to future commercialization of glasses-free 3D displays. As to the tracking approach, the practicability of the technology has been already proved, compared to major brands in the market, and thus is expected to contribute to growth of personal glasses-free 3D display market upon completion of the technology. The nontracking method can be commercialized in limited areas such as advertising, simulation, and the medical industry. Part of these original technologies has been transferred to global enterprises, which will speed up future industrialization.”
In fact, experts say that a new market will be created based on the glasses-free 3D display when the new technologies are successfully applied to IT devices such as smartphones, laptop computers, tablet PCs, monitors, and so forth. In terms of technological completeness, the newly developed technologies are more competitive than similar ones and thus are expected to  gain the upper hand in the market upon full-scale commercialization and industrialization.

Technological completeness need for early commercialization

“Because of limited resources in the lab, it’s difficult to carry out a single project in depth for a long time,” explained Dr. Kim. “Above all, while there was lack of precedent studies on problems of glasses-free 3D displays and of equipment for measuring characteristics of 3D displays, we had to develop measuring instruments to analyze 3D images. In the process, we even provided support to companies who requested assistance with measurements. In addition to this rewarding experience, our team tried to apply for patents for solutions, through which we could develop optical design of 3D display and performance simulation tools. As a result, we could develop a complex patent that can deal with the major problems of glasses-free 3D display simultaneously.”Untitled-6.jpg
“Regarding the tracking method, the performance of the system was superior to that of the existing products in the market but there should be additional efforts to improve the demonstration system, related to the accuracy of viewer tracking and with methods to handle various conditions for application of tracked information,” explained Dr. Kim. “Furthermore, we have an original technology for the non-tracking method, which improves optical 3D image resolution, and the verification has been almost completed. Yet, we need to develop parts and systems for commercialization of the technology, which is currently under way. Completion of these processes will contribute to full-scale commercialization.”

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