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HP Labs developing a holographic 3D display with a 180-degree viewing zone

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HP logo stock
HP logo stock

Sure, 3D displays ended up in almost every consumer electronics product you could find a few years ago (smartphones included), but we're still a ways off from a glasses-free 3D screens and images that multiple people can gather around and experience all at once. Researchers at Hewlett-Packard Labs are working to change that, however — they've just shown off a prototype LCD display that can show off holograph-style images without any moving parts or the need for 3D glasses. Essentially, the display provides a 3D image without the need for a fixed viewpoint, like most modern 3D technology.

The screen uses what HP researchers are calling "directional pixels," reports the MIT Technology Review. The directional pixels are made up from nanopatterned grooves on the display that send light off in different directions. HP's display is cut very deliberately — each directional pixel has three sets of grooves that correspond to and direct red, green, and blue light in different directions. From there, the reflected light passes through another, more standard LCD display that turns the light into a moving image.

The display is very much in the early stages, and the images it produces don't look terribly stunning at first glance, but the team behind it still has managed a fairly impressive technical achievement. Static images can be seen in 3D from up to one meter away in a 180 degree field of view, while video playing at 30 frames per second can be viewed from 90 degrees. Of course, content for this type of display isn't readily available — one of the HP researchers said that this display requires 200 different images to composite for the final, 3D image. Still, if you're dreaming of someday projecting a 3D image from your smartphone that all your friends will easily be able to view at once, this is some display tech worth keeping your eyes on.