3D Takes A Turn at CES 2011

We've talked about TVs and tablet PCs at CES 2011. A common bond (internet aside) that they shared at CES was a revived push for 3D. More particularly, glasses-free 3D technology.

One of the barriers to entry for 3D technology to begin with were the glasses. A compnent to most any 3D device on the market now, glasses are bulky, awkward and fairly expensive. In order for 3D to really see a significant increase in the rate of adoption, a glasses-free approach needed to be taken. The market has spoken and manufacturers are definitely heeding the call.

How does glasses-free 3D actually work though?

The key to creating a 3D image is to show a slightly different perspective to each eye so that the brain processes those images as having depth (hence why those 3D glasses in your comic books had different colored lenses). Active shutter glasses, what's found with most devices now, blocks out one side then the other at a remarkably rapid rate as to achieve the same effect.

With glasses-free, your television actually displays multiple images at the same time except in alternating bands. Using a convex lens is placed over the screen so that the image will appear differently at different angles. It's similar technology as what is used for holographic images. Pretty cool stuff.

As of right now, the technology is in what we would call beta. According to this article, if one was to get out of a viewing "sweet spot," the image only appears blurry with no 3D effect at all. On the larger screens, the imagery was reported to not be near as rich as the technology that used glasses.Toshiba's 3D Laptop

What's this mean for 2011?

Most likely, 3D will be found on devices with smaller screens. Nintendo DS made the announcement of utilizing this technology eons ago, while Sony's 3D cameras will have this capability too. Smaller screens are easier to format for glasses-free and make it harder to detect the imperfections that are easily noticeable for a larger area like a TV. One device of note included Toshiba's 3D laptop, which (according to many sources) was one of the stand out products in the glasses-free category.

What do you think? Will see more 3D products as 2011 progresses?