3D movies can be enjoyed on TV without any viewing glasses, thanks to a new German technology.
The 3D movies currently available on Blu-ray are based on two different perspectives: two images, one for each eye.
However, autostereoscopic displays need five to 10 views of the same scene (depending on the type). In the future, the number will probably be even more.
This is because these displays have to present a 3D image in such a manner that it can be seen from different angles -- indeed, there is more than one place to sit on a sofa, and you should be able to get the same three dimensional impressions from any position.
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Telecommunications at Heinrich-Hertz Institute (HHI) in Berlin have developed a technology that converts a Blu-ray's existing 3D content in a manner that enables them to be shown on autostereoscopic displays.
"We take the existing two images and generate a depth map... a map that assigns a specific distance from the camera to each object," says Christian Riechert, research fellow at HHI.
Previous systems were only capable of generating such depth maps at a dramatically slower pace; sometimes they even required manual adaptation.
Real-time conversion, by contrast, is like simultaneous interpretation: The viewer inserts a 3D Blu-ray disc, gets comfortable in front of the TV screen and enjoys the movie - without the glasses.
Researchers have already finished the software that converts these data. In the next step, the scientists, working in collaboration with industry partners, intend to port it onto a hardware product so that it can be integrated into TV.
Nevertheless, it will still take at least another calendar year before the technology hits store shelves.
Researchers will unveil this technology in Berlin at this year's IFA trade show from Aug 31 to Sep 5.