Mobile 3D world in your hand

The system, which uses autostereoscopic display technology, will be the first time that 3D technology has made it to a mobile for commercial use, and is capable of full resolution, according to Bill Bryan, technical manager of 3M’s St Paul, Minnesota-based Display and Graphics lab.

3D world in the palm of your hand

‘We expect to see a consumer electronic device by autumn in Asia, and you will see more products in the next 9-18 months,’ said Bryan, adding that 3M expected the development to drive a new market in 3D content to mobile devices.

‘This is going to be a new area for film-makers and other content providers. Disney is now shooting all of its new films in 3D. We are already seeing 3D in the living room and the gaming room: the next differentiator in the handset market will be 3D.’

The autostereoscopic technology that 3M has opted for with its 3D screen sits between the light guides and LCD screens that are used in conventional mobile phone displays.

For those interested in the minutiae of the process, the screen is made from a double-sided micro-replicated film, which has microstructures on the bottom and the top. A directional back-light system is then used to generate the 3D effect.

Using a time delay, LED lights load an image onto the left side of the screen and then five milliseconds later, do the same for the right side of the screen. The whole process runs at 120Hz, so it does not generate screen flicker.

However, running the screen at such a rate could be a drawback according to some 3D experts, who see it as a limitation, because the screen uses four times more energy than the ones in use today.

The 3D screen can only be viewed when the screen is held at a particular angle, generating what is known as a ‘sweet spot’ – something that did not annoy those using the device, maintained Bryan.

‘The thing that we have noticed is that because mobile phones are handheld, people tend to naturally move them around until they have got it in the right place.’

The result, according to 3M, is 3D that can escape the screen it is generated on.

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