Scientists Create Glasses-Free 3-D for the Movie Theater

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Watching glasses-free 3-D on a TV is no longer an outlandish concept, but that hasn't been true for movie theaters. How are you supposed to create the same parallax effect for everyone, whether they're up front or way in the back?

Researchers at MIT CSAIL and Israel's Weizmann Institute for Science finally have a practical answer. Their Cinema 3-D tech creates multiple parallax barriers in a single display, using lenses and mirrors to deliver a range of angles across the whole theater. And unlike previous attempts at large-scale glasses-free 3-D, you don't have to take a hit to resolution.

You won't get to forego the unwieldy eyewear for a while. The prototype is only slightly larger than a pad of paper and uses 50 lens/mirror combos to achieve its 3-D effect. You'd need a far bigger and more intricate system to make it work at the local movie house, which might make it prohibitively expensive. However, it's imaginable that a future, optimized version might find its way into theaters and spare you from one of the biggest hassles in modern moviegoing.

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