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December 2, 2010

Apple gets no-glasses 3D patent

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by Darren Allan

Apple has been granted a patent for an autostereoscopic system of 3D viewing, in other words, 3D without the glasses a la the Nintendo 3DS.

There are plenty of companies interested in 3D display technology, given that it’s the latest craze, and getting rid of the goofy glasses is a major boon. Yesterday, we heard news of the Cowon 3D portable media player with its glasses-free three dimensional display.

Apple notes in the patent that both active and passive 3D glasses “have not met with widespread acceptance because observers generally do not like to wear equipment over their eyes.”

“In addition, such approaches are impractical, and essentially unworkable, for projecting a 3D image to one or more casual passersby, to a group of collaborators, or to an entire audience such as when individuated projections are desired.”

Yes, not only is Apple planning to do away with the specs, but also build a system whereby multiple viewers can watch a display and all enjoy three dimensions, whatever angle they’re sitting at.

According to C-net, the technology would work by having each pixel projected onto a reflective, textured surface, which is sent into a viewer’s left and right eye separately, producing the 3D illusion. The system will apparently sense the location of every viewer’s eyes, to allow for a viewing audience, not just an individual.

It sounds like very smart stuff, but just because Apple has filed the patent, doesn’t mean that its 3D viewing system is around the corner. Whether it will be realised, or this is just a piece of patent protection which Apple thinks might come in useful one day at a long shot, only time will tell.

Story link: Apple gets no-glasses 3D patent

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  1. Eh? WTF? Don’t you need to be the first to come up with something to get a patent?

    Comment by Danny Tuppeny — December 2, 2010 @ 4:52 pm

  2. It could be possible that this might be in the next iPhone, very unlikely but apple do have a habit of patenting things after they have already been made.
    Let’s hope an iPhone HD3D turns up at a bar in the near future.

    Comment by John Walker — December 2, 2010 @ 5:04 pm

  3. Already been done. Saw it at Canton Fair in April 2010! Pretty good!!

    Comment by Robert Milliken — December 2, 2010 @ 5:12 pm

  4. First Nintendo, then Toshiba, now Apple? I’m as confused as Danny here.

    Comment by Alex — December 2, 2010 @ 5:24 pm

  5. I don’t think it’s just Nintendo and Toshiba either. I’ve seen loads of glasses-free 3D stuff being shown off over the last few months - one was something like 90″ in size too.

    I don’t see how Apple can possibly patent this.

    Actually, I can…

    Comment by Danny Tuppeny — December 2, 2010 @ 6:28 pm

  6. Apple should change their slogan to “Nintendo Did It Already”

    Comment by Truth — December 2, 2010 @ 8:33 pm

  7. Saw 3D TV, without the need for glasses, at an IPTV conference in 2008 as well - no sign of the Apple logo on that.

    I think it may simply be the exact methodology for 3D without glasses that is being patented here, but that’s not to say that other companies are not successfully getting the same effect through other methods.

    For example, I doubt the coming Ninetendo 3DS will be constantly scanning for the users eye position to accurately beam stereoscopic images, as the Apple patent attempts. :)

    Comment by Brian Turner — December 2, 2010 @ 9:18 pm

  8. ^ tl;dr

    also it’s spelled ‘nintendo’

    Comment by GundamQueen — December 3, 2010 @ 3:09 am

  9. It would be unfortunate if the laser developed a glitch, and blinded everyone in the room.

    Comment by richarpo — January 2, 2011 @ 11:15 pm

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