Researcher bringing 3-D TV back from the dead

Feb 10, 2014
UCF Assistant Professor Jayan Thomas is developing materials, with the use of nanotechnology, to make 3D TV possible without the aid of special glasses. Credit: UCF

One UCF researcher may be on the brink of bringing 3-D- TV back from the dead.

Gone are the goofy glasses required of existing sets. Instead, assistant professor Jayan Thomas is working on creating the materials necessary to create a 3-D image that could be seen from 360 degrees with no extra equipment.

"The TV screen should be like a table top," Thomas said. "People would sit around and watch the TV from all angles like sitting around a table. Therefore, the images should be like real-world objects. If you watch a football game on this 3-D TV, you would feel like it is happening right in front of you. A holographic 3-D TV is a feasible direction to accomplish this without the need of glasses."

His work is so far along that the National Science Foundation has given him a $400,000 grant over five years to develop the materials needed to produce display screens.

When 3-D TVs first came on the market in 2010, there was a lot of hype and the market expected the new sets would take off. Several broadcasters even pledged to create special channels for 3-D programming, such as ESPN and the BBC.

But in the past year, those broadcasters have canceled plans because sales have lagged and the general public hasn't adopted the sets as hoped. Some say that's because the television sets are expensive and require bulky equipment and glasses.

Thomas' approach would use new plastic composites made with nanotechnology to make the 3-D image recording process multitudes faster than currently possible. This would eliminate the need for glasses.

Thomas and his colleagues have developed the specific plastic composite needed to create the display screens necessary for effectively showing the 3-D images. That work has been published in the journals Nature and Advanced Materials.

Thomas has joint appointments in the UCF NanoScience Technology Center, the Center for Research and Education in Optics and Lasers (CREOL) and the College of Engineering and Computer Science.

The NSF CAREER Award is the agency's most prestigious award for junior faculty.

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User comments : 8

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not rated yet Feb 10, 2014
Well, nothing to show for it yet? No concept drawings of what it would be like, or any explaination of what exactly it does?

Just a "We have something neat and we're paying someone $400,000 for it"?
not rated yet Feb 10, 2014
Does he know how conducive to neck cramps it is to look down for more than a few minutes?
5 / 5 (1) Feb 10, 2014
AAP: I don't think he means a literal table, looking down. He means more like... if you have a "traditional" stereoscopic 3D tv, everybody needs glasses. It seems he's more interested in some form of 3D-to-everyone looking approach which gets me to...

Eikka: From some of the words here used (and as a press release it is pretty poor) it would seem that the focus word is "Holographic." Right now we just try and guess what each eye would see and send pictures to each eye independently. But you can't focus on an image or anything. If they could figure out a way to make moving holograms (say using MEMS mirrors and lasers) then an "optically real" 3D image could be created. An image where you can "walk around" it and view it from different angles, focus near or far on different objects, etc. This would solve probably all of the present reported problems of stereoscopic displays.
not rated yet Feb 10, 2014
From Thomas' webpage: http://www.nanosc...omas.php

Another line of work is the development of photorefractive polymers with improved sensitivity. Photorefractive composites derived from conducting polymers offer the advantage of dynamically recorded holograms without the need of processing of any kind. Thus, they are the material of choice for many cutting edge applications, such as updatable three-dimensional (3D) displays and 3D telepresence.
not rated yet Feb 10, 2014
An image where you can "walk around" it and view it from different angles

The problem with this kind of idea is that it requires tremendous amounts of bandwidth. Ordinary 3D televisions with glasses use two regular video channels and that alone has a raw data rate of about 8 Gigabits per second without compression. (HDMI can transfer 10.2 Gbps)

If you want 360 points of view for 360 degree view around the scene, you simply get so much data that you run out of bandwidth and processing power to push it into an actual display device.

One way of reducing the data is to record the image from a limited number of viewpoints and then project that on top of a 3D scanned representation of the scene, but then scanning the scene in real time in as much detail as the image has, is itself a massive undertaking. Interesting new technology should be created to compress and re-create the data mesh, and then push it to any real display device at a resolution that doesn't look like Minecraft.
not rated yet Feb 10, 2014
Bandwidth! That's the next problem. The Bandwidth needed to drive such a display is going to be huge!
not rated yet Feb 11, 2014
People worry a lot about bandwidth. As there will be strong incentives for reducing it, I imagine we'll get lots of ways to eliminate it as an issue. Just as has happened with audio streams, pictures, and 2-D video streams. And we can leverage off capabilities we didn't have back when figuring out how to compress 2-D video streams. For instance, as storage is so inexpensive, how about having a huge cache of standard 3-D objects in the player. To render a similar object, the 3-D stream would only have to provide differences from the standard object.
not rated yet Feb 11, 2014
. Just as has happened with audio streams, pictures, and 2-D video streams.

You can only compress data to the point of what actual information it carries, and then you have to toss away some. The whole development of reduction in bandwidth of audio/video signals has been to cleverly remove "unimportant" information from the stream.

But how much is unimportant in a 3D scene?

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