David Fattal belongs to the photonics group in the Intelligent Infrastructure Lab in which he and his team are working on disruptive, practical innovations based on the interaction of light with nanostructures. We asked him to tell us about their latest invention, a novel technology for glasses-free 3D display developed in collaboration with the Continuous 3D research group at HP Labs. It got a lot of attention from HP customers at the recent HP Discover 2012 event in Las Vegas.
Q: So David, what is the fuss all about?
Fattal: We’re developing a new technology to project 3D images out of a flat screen. It’s very similar to holograms but with a much wider viewing angle and easier to animate. Like holograms, the images seem to float in mid-air without the need for glasses or other headgear. Unlike holograms, however, those floating images persist as one tilts the display by a large angle in any direction -- current prototypes have a 90° view angle and a full 180° is well within reach.
Moreover the screen can be made transparent, with the 3D images observable from both sides of the display. Another key benefit of this technology is that the 3D images should be easy to animate, updated at a near video refresh rate. We expect to have the first moving-image prototypes soon.
Q: What’s next? Any product plan in view?
Fattal: We can’t comment on any specific product or commercialization plans at the moment. I can say that our team is working hard on developing this technology further, and we forsee potential applications in a variety of form factors. Stay tuned.