3M ditches the glasses for mobile 3D

The 3D optical film uses directional backlight technology to focus left and right images sequentially into the viewer's eyes.

3M's new 3D optical film relies on directional backlight technology to focus left and right images sequentially into the viewer's eyes. 3M

3M has come up with a new optical film that lets you ditch the glasses when viewing stereoscopic 3D images on mobile devices.

The 3D optical film goes into the gadget's backlight unit and uses two alternate rows of LED lights to project left and right images sequentially into the viewer's eyes. As the sequential images are focused on the individual eye, the technology eliminates the need for 3D glasses to block the picture for the other eye. And, according to Erik Jostes, LCD business director of 3M's Optical Systems Division, it does so without sacrificing screen brightness or resolution.

"This technology can switch from 3D mode to 2D mode and back and you don't make compromises on the original display," he said.

3M's technology works on displays up to 9 inches, and the company envisions it primarily for games and other single-user applications. It requires one LCD panel and operates at a 120Hz refresh rate (most monitors and TVs display video at 60Hz, but to watch video in 3D, the video must be displayed at 120Hz, since each side of the screen creates two perspectives for each frame).

Since installation of the 3D film is almost identical to that of film stacks on existing systems, 3M says it can be easily integrated into the display's backlight module at the assembly stage. The film--which will be on display at the Korea Electronics Show next week--is currently appearing in one mobile device in Asia, according to Jostes, though he wouldn't disclose which. He says it's currently in small-scale production and may show up in products stateside as early as the holidays.

About the author

Leslie Katz, Crave's senior editor, heads up a team that covers the most crushworthy (and wackiest) tech, science, and culture around. As a co-host of the now-retired CNET News Daily Podcast, she was sometimes known to channel Terry Gross and still uses her trained "podcast voice" to bully the speech recognition software on automated customer service lines. E-mail Leslie.


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