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Researchers move a step closer to 3D television without the goggles

17 August 2012

Researchers at a Fraunhofer Institute in Berlin have developed a technology that converts a Blu-ray’s existing 3D content in a way that enables it to be shown autostereoscopically.

“We take the existing two images and generate a depth map – that is to say, a map that assigns a specific distance from the camera to each object,” says Christian Riechert, a research fellow at the Fraunhofer Institute for Telecommunications, Heinrich-Hertz Institute in Berlin. “From there we compute any of several intermediate views by  applying depth image-based rendering techniques. And here’s the really neat thing: The process operates on a fully automated basis, and in real time.” 

Previous systems were only capable of generating such depth maps at a dramatically slower pace; sometimes they even required manual adaption. Real-time conversion, by contrast, is like simultaneous interpretation: The viewer inserts a 3D Blu-ray disc, gets comfortable in front of the TV screen and enjoys the movie – without the glasses.

Meanwhile, a hardware component estimates the depth map in the background and generates the requisite views. The viewer is aware of nothing; he or she can fast forward or rewind the movie, start it, stop it – and all with the same outstanding quality. The flickering that could appear on the edges of objects – something that happens due to imprecise estimations – is reported to be "imperceptible".

The researchers have already finished the software that converts these data. In the next step, the scientists, working in collaboration with industry partners, intend to port it onto a hardware product so that it can be integrated into televisions.

Nevertheless, it will still take at least another calendar year before the technology hits department store shelves.

The technology will be demonstrated at the IFA trade show in Berlin from August 31 to September 5. An autostereoscopic 3D screen will be set up right in front of a sofa corner at Booth 10 in Hall 11.1. Visitors can select from the various 3D Blu-ray discs, and as the disc is played, the system will convert it live - no glasses required!

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