MIT's solution is to encode multiple parallax barriers in one display, in such a way that each member of the audience gets a view tailored to their precise position in the theater. The whole system is predicated on the idea that people watching movies in a theater tend to sit still and stay put -- as opposed to people watching TV. Essentially, each seat in the theater is getting a 3-D movie beamed directly to that specific space.
Or something like that: MIT isn't disclosing too many details on how the multiple parallax barrier effect is achieved. Presumably, patents are involved. But the team does say that the prototype system uses "50 sets of mirrors and lenses " and yet is "barely larger than a pad of paper." Intrigue!
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The MIT team also concedes that the technology is not particularly practical at the moment, but that they plan to continue development and improve image resolution.
"It remains to be seen whether the approach is financially feasible enough to scale up to a full-blown theater," says MIT professor Wojciech Matusik in the press materials. "But we are optimistic that this is an important next step in developing glasses-free 3D for large spaces like movie theaters and auditoriums."
Hollywood will be glad to hear it. Statistics suggest that enthusiasm for 3-D movies at the cinema is waning fast, which is no surprise. Most 3-D movies aren't worth the extra money, IMHO, although some most definitely are. If we can get 3-D pictures without the added glasses and expense, everybody wins.