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Breakthrough Could Make Mobile 3D Viable

March 3, 2016 By Molly White in

3D movies are hot again. But technical challenges have prevented mobile 3D from becoming a reality – until now at least. A research team from Sun Yat-Sen University in China has made a breakthrough that could make mobile 3D viable.

Mobile 3D Challenges

3D video viewing technology can cause headaches and nausea unless the developer addresses what is called the “vergence-accommodation conflict,” explained Lilin Liu, author and associate professor at Sun Yat-Sen University’s State Key Lab of Optoelectronics Materials and Technology, in a press release.

Vergeance distance is the point at which the sight lines of a person’s left and right eye converge. The accommodative distance is the distance to which the eye focuses. 3D imaging disrupts the normal interaction and balance between vergeance distance and accommodative distance, potentially causing discomfort for the viewer.

Conventional 3D technology addresses the issue using images with varying binocular distance. But that hasn’t been a practical solution for mobile devices – in part because of the small size requirements for mobile device components.

The Sun Yat-Sen University solution involves projecting numerous 2D images to our pupils at spatial intervals smaller than their diameter, which means at least two different images are viewed via each pupil. As a result, the eyes focus on the displayed image more naturally.

In addition, the prototype the researchers developed is just 65 millimeters thin, and the team said it could be made thinner by improving structural elements. That would make it thin enough to be incorporated in 3D wearable electronics as well handheld mobile devices, according to report co-author Dongdong Teng.

Eight test subjects reported experiencing no headaches or viewing discomfort when looking at a 3D image of an apple in the lab.

“The novelty and the main merit of our super multi-view system lie in the thin structure. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report of a ‘super multi-view system’ with thin structure, which makes it suitable for portable electronics such as smart phones and wearable devices,” Liu said.