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Apple Files Patent For Holographic 3-D Display

Apple says recent developments in computers and computer graphics have made spatial 3-D images more practical and accessible.

Thomas Claburn

March 20, 2008

2 Min Read

Future Apple computers may be capable of displaying images in 3D, without requiring polarized glasses. Apple on Thursday filed a patent application for a three-dimensional display system.

"Recent developments in computers and computer graphics have made spatial 3-D images more practical and accessible," the patent application explains. "The computational power now exists, for example, for desktop workstations to generate stereoscopic image pairs quickly enough for interactive display."




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The patent application goes on to assert that two-dimensional projections of 3-D scenes are inadequate. "Without the benefit of 3-D rendering, even high quality images that have excellent perspective depictions still appear unrealistic and flat," it says.

It identifies the shortcomings of existing 3-D display techniques, noting that they may require a viewer to remain in a fixed position, to wear polarized glasses, or may fail to render shapes so that they appear to have the same volume and density at different viewing angles.

Thus the patent application goes on to describe a projection display system that renders images in three dimensions while still allowing viewers freedom of movement. It proposes to achieve this effect by tracking the position of the viewer(s).

"No headgear needs to be worn by the observer," the patent application explains. "In one embodiment, the system of the present invention provides a stereoscopic 3-D display and viewing experience; in another, it delivers a realistic holographic 3-D display experience."

As is the case with any patent application, there's no guarantee Apple will ever commercialize this technology. Before it does, graphics cards will have to incorporate a stereoscopic rendering engine.

About the Author(s)

Thomas Claburn

Editor at Large, Enterprise Mobility

Thomas Claburn has been writing about business and technology since 1996, for publications such as New Architect, PC Computing, InformationWeek, Salon, Wired, and Ziff Davis Smart Business. Before that, he worked in film and television, having earned a not particularly useful master's degree in film production. He wrote the original treatment for 3DO's Killing Time, a short story that appeared in On Spec, and the screenplay for an independent film called The Hanged Man, which he would later direct. He's the author of a science fiction novel, Reflecting Fires, and a sadly neglected blog, Lot 49. His iPhone game, Blocfall, is available through the iTunes App Store. His wife is a talented jazz singer; he does not sing, which is for the best.

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