Spatial displays: 3D without the glasses

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Spatial displays: 3D without the glasses

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Spatial displays: 3D without the glasses

Subheading text
Spatial displays offer a holographic viewing experience without needing special glasses or virtual reality headsets.
    • Author:
    • Author name
      Quantumrun Foresight
    • May 8, 2023

    In November 2020, SONY released its Spatial Reality Display, a 15-inch monitor that gives a 3D effect without additional devices. This upgrade is important for industries that rely on 3D images, such as design, film, and engineering.

    Spatial displays context

    Spatial displays are technologies that create 3D images or videos that can be viewed without special glasses or headsets. They use spatial augmented reality (SAR) technology, which combines virtual and real objects through projection mapping. Using digital projectors, SAR layers graphical information on top of physical things, giving the illusion of 3D. When applied to spatial displays or monitors, this means putting microlenses or sensors within the monitor to track eye and facial position to generate 3D versions at every angle. 

    SONY's model uses Eye-Sensing Light Field Display (ELFD) technology, which comprises high-speed sensors, facial recognition algorithms, and a micro-optical lens to simulate a holographic viewing experience that adapts to the viewer's every movement. As expected, technology like this needs powerful computing engines, such as Intel Core i7 ninth generation at 3.60 gigahertz and an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 SUPER graphics card. (Chances are, by the time you’re reading this, these computing specs will already be outdated.)

    These displays are being used in various fields. For example, in entertainment, spatial displays can facilitate immersive experiences in theme parks and movie theaters. In advertising, they are being employed to create interactive and engaging presentations in shopping centers and other public spaces. And in military training, they are deployed to create realistic simulations for training soldiers and pilots.

    Disruptive impact

    SONY has already sold its spatial displays to automobile manufacturers like Volkswagen and filmmakers. Other potential clients are architecture firms, design studios, and content creators. Designers, in particular, can use spatial displays to provide a realistic preview of their prototypes, which eliminates numerous renderings and modeling. The availability of 3D formats without glasses or headsets in the entertainment industry is a giant step towards more diverse and interactive content. 

    The use cases seem to be endless. Smart cities, in particular, will find spatial displays helpful in improving public services, such as providing real-time information on traffic, emergencies, and events. Meanwhile, healthcare providers can use spatial displays to simulate organs and cells, and schools and science centers can finally project a life-sized T-Rex that looks and moves like the real thing. However, there might be potential challenges as well. Spatial displays could be used for political propaganda and manipulation, potentially leading to more convincing disinformation campaigns. Additionally, these displays could lead to new concerns about privacy, as they may be used to collect personal data and track people's movements.

    Nonetheless, consumer tech manufacturers still see a lot of potential in this equipment. For example, some experts argue that a virtual reality headset would allow for a more realistic, interactive experience, but SONY claims there is a market for stationary 3D monitors. While the technology requires expensive, high-end machines to run it, SONY has opened its spatial displays to regular consumers who simply want monitors that can bring images to life.

    Applications for spatial displays

    Some applications for spatial displays may include:

    • More interactive public digital communication, such as street signs, guides, maps, and self-serve kiosks that are updated in real-time.
    • Firms deploying spatial displays to employees for more interactive communication and collaboration.
    • Streamers and content platforms, such as Netflix and TikTok, producing 3D-formatted content that is interactive.
    • Changes in the way people learn and may lead to the development of new educational technologies.
    • Potential side effects on people's physical and mental health, such as motion sickness, eye fatigue, and other issues.

    Questions to consider

    • How would you see yourself using spatial displays?
    • How else do you think spatial displays can change business and entertainment?

    Insight references

    The following popular and institutional links were referenced for this insight: