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Ask the editor – When are we going to see ‘glasses-free’ 3D?

December 10, 2010 — Article

Ask the editor is the spot where we try to answer readers’ questions.

Q: Ask the editor – When are we going to see ‘glasses-free’ 3D?
Sarah Marshall

Toshiba glasses-free 3D TV
Toshiba 20GL1

A: Availability of glases-free 3D TV might be a little sooner than you think, though when it’s actually going to be available in our living rooms is likely to take a bit longer. While 3D has barely arrived for homes in the UK, in Japan they’re already working on the holy grail of 3D reproduction – 3D images without the need for special glasses.

Toshiba has announced that it will be selling just such a device in Japan in time for Christmas. The “Glass-less REGZA 3D TV”, will be available in two sizes, neither of them quite at the home cinema level: the 20in 20GL1 and the 12in 12GL1.

The TVs use parallax barrier technology to achieve the effect, which places a layer of material with precision-cut slits, allowing each eye to see a slightly different set of pixels. The trick for this early incarnation of the technology is the extremely limited viewing angle which will offer the 3D effect. Toshiba’s models will offer a range of nine distinct viewing positions from which you’ll be able to see it.

Toshiba’s not the only company working on this – Hitachi has already shown one and NEC has one on the way, while display specialist NewSight has demonstrated a 70in model, though this is likely to be intended for advertising displays. Plus Sharp is expected to have a 3D phone by the end of the year and the Nintendo 3DS is also due soon.

By all accounts the image is far from perfect, so although we can expect to see it becoming more refined, home cinema 3D will certainly require glasses for a few years yet.

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