Sharp brings 3D to PCs, without the funny specs

Firm brings tech already used in phones and laptops to desktops. Screen creates different pixel images for each eye.

Japan's Sharp has created a desktop monitor that lets people see pictures and graphics in 3D without having to wear special glasses.

The LL-151-3D is a 15-inch LCD monitor that taps 3D technology Sharp first showed off in late 2002. The company has already incorporated the technology into screens for phones and notebooks; the new monitor, which Sharp had originally hoped to release by the end of 2003, marks the technology's debut for desktops.

The monitor can be thought of as a thin film transistor, or TFT, sandwich. It contains two TFT panels separated by a parallax barrier. The barrier causes the monitor to create two slightly different pixel images--one for each eye. This tricks the brain into thinking that any objects displayed are three dimensional.

The 3D functionality can also be turned off so that spreadsheets and e-mails can be viewed in standard 2D mode.

Sony, Sharp and others formed a consortium last year to hammer out standards for the development of 3D monitors. Hardware and software that accommodates 3D viewing with glasses will work with the monitor. Sharp, among others, is also working with software developers to tweak their applications to make them viewable in 3D.

Target markets include gamers, but also industrial customers in life sciences, medical imaging, oil and gas, and design.

The monitor costs $1,499 and is available through Sharp.

"The fourth wave of LCD technology is here, and Sharp is at the forefront, delivering a practical solution that allows users the freedom to view both 2D and 3D images in one monitor," Ian Matthew, 3D business development manager for Sharp Systems of America, said in a statement.