German, Swiss researchers develop new 3-D TV display that causes less eyestrain

German and Swiss researchers have jointly developed a new kind of home 3-D broadcast display technology that they claim provides high-quality stereoscopic images picture quality while causing far less strain on the eyes than 3-D viewing techniques now used in the United States and elsewhere.

Infitec, a provider of virtual reality 3-D technologies based in Germany, has partnered with Optics Balzers, a Swiss company that specializes in 3-D filters, in the new venture. They have secured investment capital from EUREKA, a 39-member group of countries united to support research projects, and have built a new full-resolution, LCD-based 3-D set called the Dualplex Display to receive and display the images in 3-D using polarized glasses.

The new technology doesn’t darken the ambient light, and the screen can be viewed from all angles with glasses without distorting the 3-D images. This, the researchers said, causes less strain on the human eye than more common 3-D technologies. An Infitec engineering team worked on signal-processing software and lighting features for the monitor, while Optics Balzers developed special filters for the lighting unit and the glasses.

Infitec uses a narrow color band wave to improve the quality of the image, employing specific wavelengths of red, green and blue for the right eye and different wavelengths of the same colors for the left eye. Optics Balzers combined four LEDs (two green, one red and one blue) to create the color range needed.

The companies created the 23in Dualplex Display, which facilitates the wider range of use with 3-D glasses. “Viewers will be able to lie down on the sofa to watch the screen; they can turn their heads in any direction and the image won’t change,” said Arnold Simon, Infitec CTO.

The partners have applied for a German patent and are now in the process of submitting patents for other countries as well. The researchers said they want to improve the screen further and have secured funding for a follow-up project to brighten its images.

Though the companies’ final goal is to sell the 3-D LCD screen on the consumer market, they also plan to target niche professional markets such as medical professionals. Using 3-D imaging could help surgeons doing operations, but the image quality has previously too low to interest the medical field. That could change with this technology, Simon said.

“For consumers, 3-D represents fun. It brings them closer to the reality on the screen, immerses them in a scene and makes it more emotional,” Simon said, “but in the professional market, the benefits are different: Better viewing can help a surgeon avoid cutting an artery.”

In 2006,Infitec signed an agreement with Dolby Laboratories to develop a new 3-D system specifically for digital cinema called wavelength multiplexing, which is based on the principle of the old red-and-green glasses.