Requirements for a 3D technology

A new 3D Technology should meet these general requirements to reach widespread adoption:

  1. High-quality of visual 3D effects.

  2. Free from wearable accessories (glasses, helmets, etc.) to display 3D effects.

  3. Elimination of visual 2D technologies from content, content delivery media, display, and ways to view.

  4. Elimination of visual 3D technologies of previous generations.

  5. Adaptability to trends in visual technologies, including the development of content types and formats, content delivery media, and ways to view.

  6. Support of synchronized multi-content feature during demonstration.

  7. Modularity and scalability of 3D visualization hardware.

  8. Availability of development reserve in next-generation 3D design.

  9. Availability of a conceptual framework, i.e. the existence of engineering solutions (“cubes”) to create prospective 3D design.

  10. Availability of component base for production of conceptual “cubes”.

  11. Low requirements for initial research to start producing 3D technology, i.e. minimal initial investments.

  12. Short terms of industrial development.

  13. Technological compatibility with production of 2D technology, i.e., minimum investments in the industrial production of 3D technology.

  14. Reasonable cost of next-generation 3D products, comparable with prices of 2D technology.

The SSE technology is compliant with the mentioned requirements. Details are below:

1. High-quality of visual 3D effects

Holography usually is a visual quality standard for 3D with its potential features to reproduce a 3D scene quite accurately and its continuous view around scene. However, according to long-term experience with printed stereo products, as well as fresh experience with a modern 3D technology, small parallax steps (up to 3-5°) conceal perspective discretion and create a sense of quite comfortable continuity for looking around (within a limited viewing area, restricted by perimeter of demonstration field/screen). Therefore, with the proper initial shooting/synthesis of 3D content, the quality of visual 3D effect is uniquely identified only by accuracy of perspective reproduction. Autostereoscopic systems with digitally compressed perspectives do not meet this requirement: they drop pixels from original 3D scenes, with growing severity together with the number of perspectives. Symmetric optical schemes (as dual lenticular lens in SSE), made from Cutrona cell analogues avoid this defect. Among glasses-based technologies, only active shutter glasses or helmets/glasses with integrated displays satisfy the requirement.

2. Free from wearable accessories (glasses, helmets, etc.) to display 3D effects

This requirement is purely functional. A market survey has revealed that only holographic auto-stereoscopic and conceptual solutions can be considered promising. As technologically acceptable holography is not available yet, the real systems-contenders for the promptest industrial development and trade support are only auto-stereoscopic solutions, including the SSE technology.

3. Elimination of visual 2D technologies from content, content delivery media, display, and ways to view

This requirement is dictated by consumer inertia and is implicitly supported by commercial and industrial uncertainty in view of change of visual technologies (camouflaged as a technological evolution). As a first step, we will determine the defining features of 2D-technologies:

  • Sequential-linear content forming frame by frame by filming and/or computer synthesis of frames; the ability to modify a video sequence and a single frame in it; the ability to copy/restore and store content on traditional media;

  • Broadcasting of content (by air, cable) or a standalone playback from media;

  • Demonstration with the aid of some projection equipment or a display (usually LCD, and in the future – on screens using meta-materials);

  • Feature of 2D technology rendering: “One screen – one content”;

  • Feature of 2D technology viewing: glasses free image access to any number of arbitrary located viewers;

  • 2D-technology is fundamentally additive, with all the consequences in terms of content and means of demonstration.

It is obvious that all multi-perspective visual technologies allow conversion to 2D mode in case of unification of all synchronous perspectives, i.e. the elimination of 2D at the content level is automatic. Details of SSE were presented above (see Organisation scheme of video stream/video sequence for N-perspective synthesis, as well as the previous illustration regarding the content): SSE technology fully repeats the linear formation of content and all existing features of 2D. The same applies to broadcasting of the SSE-content by both traditional channels and standalone playback from media. According to SSE definition, the projection screen for this technology can be any 2D screen with satisfying speed and luminosity requirements. Simultaneously this means that SSE supports direct control of 2D imagery, related to the visual modification of current frame (shift of a centre of an image, zoom. etc.) can be reproduced (transferred) in SSE: every action in this case should be extended to all synchronous frames-perspectives. Furthermore, as was explained previously, SSE technology is additive and essentially allows unlimited number of viewers. Therefore, all the defining features of 2D technology are actually eliminated in SSE, but the opposite is not true, because SSE shows 3D effect (volume/depth) and provides some specific functions (for example, multi-content: “One screen – multiple content” for their separated and independent synchronic view), not available in 2D.

4. Elimination of visual 3D technologies of previous generations

The fourth requirement is mainly dictated by the commercial and industrial uncertainty in the choice of a promising visual platform (and already incurred costs of vendors to find solutions and production of pilot batches of 3D technology). Excluding from consideration (according to the second requirement) all 3D technology that need wearable accessories, as well as vaguely distant holographic 3D conceptions, i.e. considering only auto-stereoscopic solutions, it can be concluded that they are divided into two classes based on the use of Lippmann-Bonnet imagery: stereo and multiangle (more than two). The only advantage of dual perspectives 3D technologies (for example, a tracker) is obvious minimal 3D content. However, as was previously indicated there are already developed means of interpolation and (partially) extrapolation of perspectives having only 2 key frames. In other words, the previous advantage of minimalism is already neutralized. At the same time, the tdual-perspective concept itselves can be improved using the elements of solution from a competitive class (in this text, in particular, is presented a useful feature of use of SSE asynchronous aspect in common tracking application). Then, taking into account the known limitations of the number of viewers using dual-angle autostereoscopic systems, one can argue that the multiangle concepts actually eliminated them. On the other hand, it can be also clearly concluded that the SSE eliminates all other known multiangle platforms, i.e. that SSE is a fundamentally superior technology.

5. Adaptability to trends in visual technologies, including the development of content types and formats, content delivery media, and ways to view

This requirement is dictated solely by the industry, which invests considerable financial amounts in the hardware development (i.e. in the synthesis, conversion, and storage of content, paths, visualization means). Because of 2D compatibility SSE inherits all previous developments/trends of the existing technologies in terms of content and path. Moreover, the main trends in development of visualization means, such as increase in speed, increase in resolution and brightness of the image (as well as perspective transparency, the thickness of image carriers, etc.) enhance manufacturability of SSE and quality of produced 3D imagery.

6. Support of synchronised multi-content feature during demonstration

Display glasses, helmets and passive glasses do not allow this mode in principle. The technology of active shutter glasses can provide visual multi-content only if substantial modernized, i. e. time compression for demonstration of a stereo pair (for inserting other content) and a separate competing contents control using viewers’ glasses: when some of viewers watch their content on the screen, the shutter glasses of other viewers are opaque. For all platforms based on the multiangle Lippmann-Bonnet imagery (including SSE), the multi-content mode is provided trivially.

7. Modularity and scalability of 3D visualisation hardware

This requirement is definitely interesting for manufacturers (modularity) and users (scalability of demonstration screens). It is obvious that display glasses and helmets do no satisfy this requirement. However, the active and passive glasses technologies(separately) fully allow both properties with the apparent synchronisation of devices. Among the autostereoscopic technologies, including those based on multiangles in form of Lippmann-Bonnet imagery, as already noted previously, such optical devices are already present. Those devices are are non-additive and therefore do not meet the modularity/scalability requirements. In contrast, SSE technology, as was illustrated, fully meets these required properties. Moreover, SSE becomes a universal module of screen compositions, as a piece in Lego sets.

8. Availability of development reserve in next-generation 3D design

This requirement is particularly interesting for manufacturers, planning for targeted concentrated investments and long-term success of a trade cycle, i.e. the long-term demand of a new product. Without discussing the competitive platforms, i.e. strictly focusing on the SSE technology, the following should be noted:

  • Previously, in the main part of this text, it has been noted that any means for 2D imagery may be used as a projection source for SSE. This means in particular that the SSE has assured reserve of technical compatibility with existing (and forthcoming) trends in the screen and/or a projection modernization (the size and topology of screens, their transparency and flexibility, replacing the LCD screen display with other indication platforms, including meta-materials, etc.).

  • The SSE module itself includes 3 different elements (a lenticular lens, a slit layer and a scattering film) with the possibility of individual and joint modernization. For example, a lenticular lens with convex cylindrical lenses may be made of new optical materials; it may be substituted with a thinner film with an almost flat profile, which would be Fresnel analogue for lenses. In addition, as it was previously described in the text, for a specific niche use (and with particularly bright screens) lenticular lenses can be replacemed with passive thin slits layer. Another example: a matte film can be removed from the SSE “sandwich” by fine grinding or laser machining, or by surface “boiling”, or sprayed layer on a flat surface of an inner lenticular lens (or on an adjacent surface of a slit layer), or by dispersion in the region of adjacent surfaces (a slit layer and an inner lenticular lens). In addition, the scattering properties can be assigned to the adhesive material that binds the slit layer with the inner lenticular lens.

  • A separate question is the reserve of development of a slit layer. It is clear that the most suitable realization today for this layer is a black and white high-speed LCD screen (high screen update ratio). In this case, the LCD platform development reserve is automatically inherited in SSE. In addition to the LCD which is based on switching of polarized light, as a slit layer (in b/w version) the most promising concepts are composed of Kerr cells and other compositions, capable switching the scattered light (there already are results from photonics field promising not only successful development, but also some reserve). In addition, a special reserve of development is related to power supply/activity management of slit layer.

  • We especially emphasize the important of constructive fact: SSE technology can be implemented in two ways: as an embedded component in 3D hardware or separate device mountable onto the 2D screen. This means that the development reserves apply for both ways.

Thus, summing up the above, we can confidently state that the SSE technology has not only a cumulative technical reserve for creation, but also a huge development reserve, that can supply visual 3D systems in long term (materials and components, the weight and thickness of the concept, transparency, speed, etc.).

9. Availability of a conceptual framework, i.e. the existence of engineering solutions (“cubes”) to create prospective 3D design

The ninth requirement is also directly dictated by the needs of industry, interested in minimizing the cost of initial stage in uncertain priority concept choice conditions . Naturally, the preference should be given to the solution, which will provide availability of a conceptual framework, i.e. the existence of engineering solutions to create prospective 3D design. These solutions, which form a part of SST technology, are not only known, but also actively used in similar constructions. In general, the SSE design relates to a planar (flat) optics capable of switching light flow on and off. All optical elements have already been used in constructing similar products (separately or partially together) fully confirming their individual (optical) properties and the ability to constructive combination and functioning in the 3D systems. The same applies to a single non-optical component of the SSE – the management of a slit layer. In other words, SSE meets the above formulated condition of conceptual readiness.

10. Availability of component base for production of conceptual “cubes”

The tenth requirement comes also from the field of industrial interests, as it relates to specialization of production and cooperation of manufacturing in the development and production of promising products. We will just note that several manufacturers industrially produce lenticular lenses and materials in a broad range of sizes, i.e., this part would not cause problems. The same applies to a slit layer in a as a translucent LCD panel. Such panels, in large part, are semi-finished goods in the LCD screen mass production intended for TV sets, computer displays, special advertising panels, displays for mobile devices, and others (however, specialized b/w translucent screens are present also in the market). That means, in principle, that provision of translucent b/w LCD screens with suitable parameters (resolution, speed, brightness) should not be source of problems for SSE manufacturing process. Blocks of autonomous power supply (disposable and rechargeable batteries, cables, or wireless powering circuit) and equipment for wireless control of the slit layer, in principle, are not in shortage. Thus, in view of the availability of fundamental elements, readiness to produce a SSE does not cause any doubts.

11. Low requirements for initial research to start producing 3D technology, i.e. minimal initial investments

The next requirement reveals the position of industry, exhibiting an understandable caution regarding the forward investments needed for retrofitting the facilities and technological preparation for production. Here again, it should be noted that, unlike other 3D-platforms, production of SSE technology requires virtually no change in the existing technology, i. e. any initial research/development (technology, equipment, tools, instructions, distribution and conjunction of operations, material support). When it comes to accessories for 2D systems, mass production of autonomous SSE is similar to standard LCD screen assembly process with additional power supply/control unit installation operation. In the case of a SSE built into a specialized 3D-unit, autonomous power supply/control unit is excluded then to the common production technology of a standard LCD screen is added only step of installing SSE assembly into the body of the unit (along with control software, hard-coded into the onboard controller). In any case, the list of technological preparation required for SSE production will include only additional workbench assembly and facilities for maintenance/repair already used in the industry.

12. Short terms of industrial development

The twelfth requirement is also initiated by industry (including trade). Keeping in mind the costs already incurred in the development and production of 3D units and due to the trade delay with their sales (and with cost recovery), the demand for accelerated industrial development is absolutely clear and reasonable. Furthermore, the promptness of a concept development, with a continuing uncertainty of its acceptance in the background, becomes essential for reserving time for the next (regular) attempt (in case of failure). Therefore, when it comes to SSE, the industrial development of this technology cannot be prolonged due to listed features and additions, as well as developed design.

13. Technological compatibility with production of 2D technology, i.e., minimum investments in the industrial production of 3D technology

The thirteenth requirement in the list is clearly dictated by industry. It is easy to see that this requirement logically supplements the set of conditions, in which the industry moves to a new generation of products (as recently happened with smartphones and tablets, after experience with mobile telephones, notebooks/netbooks, game consoles, readers, players, and other mobile devices). In view of the explanations/comments to previous requirements, it can be argued that the only promising 3D platform that meets the latest demand doubtless is SSE. Moreover, due to real technological inheritance from 2D (and in a large part from 3D of the previous generations), only SSE is able to provide the required minimal investment into preparation, development and production of advanced 3D products, which means that the total cost of the new technology will also be minimal.

14. Reasonable cost of next-generation 3D products, comparable with prices of 2D technology

So, the ultimate fourteenth requirement from the list is explicitly initiated by the trade and in part by the industry. At the start of the SSE industrial launch as enhancement for LCD, the real value of SSE-module would be actually defined by the black and white slit layer cost (without the pigment layer and the back light, but with a block of switching slits and holding rim around the perimeter) – semi-finished product of conventional LCD screen, because the cost of lenticular lenses and a matte film will be only a fraction of it. In the mass production of such a module (without embedded into an assembly polarizers and other materials), the cost will include the following: Research and Advanced Development expenses (R&D) cost of consumables (LCD) and assembly parts (transparent linings with a matrix of contacts, hinged blocks and power/control cables, holding rim around the perimeter), the operation of the input control, assembly, and finishing control, and the total costs will not exceed 60-70% of the cost of a typical LCD screen! Then, taking into account the proportion of the cost of LCD screen in the price of a finished 2D-product according to the current pricing scheme, it can be expected that the final price of its flagship 3D technology with SSE platform will exceed the price of the corresponding 2D analogues no more than by 35-45% (embedded SSE), followed by the decrease up to 25-30%. This is consistent with the pricing practices in case of 2D flagship products’ change and it is safe to assume that the SSE-platform meets the demand of the price in the requirement list.