The patent's assignee for patent number 8646917 is
News editors obtained the following quote from the background information supplied by the inventors: "The present description relates, in general, to the illusion of stereoscopic or three dimensional (3D) image generation and projection, and, more particularly, to systems and methods for producing 3D images or depth and space media illusions without requiring viewers to wear 3D glasses or the like (e.g., multiplane display systems providing a 3D display to viewers rather than using projected images requiring a viewing technology such as particular glasses to be properly viewed).
"There is a growing trend toward using 3D projection techniques in theatres and in home entertainment systems including video games and computer-based displays. In many conventional 3D projection techniques, the right eye and the left eye images are delivered separately to display the same scene or images from separate perspectives so that a viewer sees a three dimensional composite, e.g., certain characters or objects appear nearer than the screen and other appear farther away than the screen. Stereoscopy, stereoscopic imaging, and 3D imaging are labels for any technique capable of creating the illusion of depth in an image. Often, the illusion of depth in a photograph, movie, or other two-dimensional image is created by presenting a slightly different image to each eye or the creation of parallax. In most animated 3D projection systems, depth perception in the brain is achieved by providing two different images to the viewer's eyes representing two perspectives of the same object with a minor deviation similar to the perspectives that both eyes naturally receive in binocular vision.
"The images or image frames used to produce such a 3D output are often called stereoscopic images or a stereoscopic image stream because the 3D effect is due to stereoscopic perception by the viewer. A frame is a single image at a specific point in time, and motion or animation is achieved by showing many frames per second (fps) such as 24 to 30 fps. The frames may include images or content from a live action movie filmed with two cameras or a rendered animation that is imaged or filmed with two camera locations. Stereoscopic perception results from the presentation of two horizontally offset images or frames with one or more object slightly offset to the viewer's left and right eyes, e.g., a left eye image stream and a right eye image stream of the same object. The amount of offset between the elements of left and right eye images determines the depth at which the elements are perceived in the resulting stereo image. An object appears to protrude toward the observer and away from the neutral plane or screen when the position or coordinates of the left eye image are crossed with those of the right eye image (e.g., negative parallax). In contrast, an object appears to recede or be behind the screen when the position or coordinates of the left eye image and the right image are not crossed (e.g., a positive parallax results).
"Many techniques have been devised and developed for projecting stereoscopic images to achieve a 3D effect. One technique is to provide left and right eye images for a single, offset two-dimensional image and displaying them alternately, e.g., using 3D switching or similar devices. A viewer is provided with liquid crystal shuttered spectacles to view the left and the right eye images. The shuttered spectacles are synchronized with the display signal to admit a corresponding image one eye at a time. More specifically, the shutter for the right eye is opened when the right eye image is displayed and the liquid crystal shutter for the left eye is opened when the left eye image is displayed. In this way, the observer's brain merges or fuses the left and right eye images to create the perception of depth.
"Another technique for providing stereoscopic viewing is the use of anaglyphs. An anaglyph is an image generally consisting of two distinctly colored, and preferably, complementary colored, images. The theory of anaglyph is the same as the technique described above in which the observer is provided separate left and right eye images, and the horizontal offset in the images provides the illusion of depth. The observer views the anaglyph consisting of two images of the same object in two different colors, such as red and blue-green, and shifted horizontally. The observer wearing anaglyph spectacles views the images through lenses of matching colors. In this manner, the observer sees, for example, only the blue-green tinted image with the blue-green lens, and only the red tinted image with the red lens, thus providing separate images to each eye. The advantages of this implementation are that the cost of anaglyph spectacles is lower than that of liquid crystal shuttered spectacles and there is no need for providing an external signal to synchronize the anaglyph spectacles.
"In other 3D projection systems, the viewer may be provided glasses with appropriate polarizing filters such that the alternating right-left eye images are seen with the appropriate eye based on the displayed stereoscopic images having appropriate polarization (two images are superimposed on a screen, such as a silver screen to preserve polarization, through orthogonal polarizing filters). Other devices have been produced in which the images are provided to the viewer concurrently with a right eye image stream provided to the right eye and a left eye image stream provided to the left eye. Still other devices produce an auto-stereoscopic display via stereoscopic conversion from an input color image and a disparity map, which typically is created based on offset right and left eye images. While these display or projection systems may differ, each typically requires a stereographic image as input in which a left eye image and a slightly offset right eye image of a single scene from offset cameras or differing perspectives are provided to create a presentation with the appearance of depth.
"There is a continuous desire and need to provide new techniques that provide cost effective but eye-catching content with depth and dimension. For example, it is desirable to grab the attention of crowds in shopping malls, on busy streets, in amusement parks, and other crowded facilities such as airports and entertainment arenas. As discussed above, 3D imagery is one exciting way to appeal to viewers and hold their attention. However, the use of 3D imagery has, in the past, been limited by a number of issues. Typically, 3D projection is used only in low light environments and is not particularly effective in applications where there is a significant amount of ambient light such as an outdoor venue during the daytime (e.g., an amusement park or athletic stadium in the morning or afternoon where conventional 3D video image projection cannot compete with sunlight). Further, 3D projection technologies generally require the viewer to wear special viewing glasses, which is often inconvenient for many applications and can significantly add to costs. Hence, there remains a need for systems and methods for providing autostereoscopic or 3D displays in a cost effective manner, in the presence of higher ambient light levels, and without the need for special eye or head wear."
As a supplement to the background information on this patent, VerticalNews correspondents also obtained the inventors' summary information for this patent: "The inventors recognized that content presented with dimension and depth is often more compelling, interesting, and eye-catching when compared with mere two-dimensional (2D) presentation of similar content. However, it was also recognized that there is a large amount of previously created and available 2D content and that creating new content and/or converting existing 2D content to 3D format digitally is typically very expensive. With these understandings in mind, the inventors created the multiplane display systems described herein that provide an illusion of depth and space (or a 3D display or effect) using two or more 2D images or sets of content. The multiplane display systems are also particularly well-suited for venues with limited available space.
"Briefly, each display system includes at least a foreground and a background display assembly that each includes a display element and a content source. A first set of 2D content is provided via the foreground content source to the foreground display element to display a foreground image on a first surface (e.g., a planar surface in a first or foreground plane), and a second set of 2D content is provided by the background content source to the background display element to display a background image on a second surface (e.g., a planar surface in a second or background plane). The first and second surfaces are 'multiplane' in the sense that they are positioned in spaced apart planes, e.g., parallel planes that are 2 to 12 inches or more apart. The first and second sets of 2D content are viewable concurrently on the first and second display surfaces by a viewer as the foreground display element is at least partially transparent or transmissive of light from the background display element, and the first and second sets of 2D content combine to create a 3D image or display.
"For example, an existing 2D content file may be processed to create the foreground and background sets of 2D content, and then the display on spaced apart planar surfaces creates a 3D effect or illusion of space and depth using 2D imagery. For example, the foreground display element may include a liquid crystal or other film with adjustable opacity and the foreground content source may include a projector projecting the 2D content on a rear or back surface of the foreground display element, and the background display element may include a liquid crystal display (LCD) or similar display device that is used to display the background 2D content. In many embodiments, the 3D display system also includes an intermediate display assembly including a display element, such as a transparent projection screen film, that is used as a front or rear projector screen to display intermediate 2D content projected from a front or rear projector (e.g., an intermediate 2D content source). The intermediate display element is typically planar and positioned between the foreground and background planes (and display elements located in such planes) and spaced apart some distance from each of these planes. In this manner, a third layer of 2D images are provided to further the illusion of depth and space provided to a viewer that concurrently views 2D content displayed on these three layered display elements.
"In some embodiments, an additional set of content is provided in the 3D display system to improve the illusion of space and depth. Specifically, a controller or control system may be provided in the 3D display system that controls operation of each of the display assemblies to selectively modify the displayed 2D content (e.g., the foreground, intermediate, and background images being displayed on the multi-planed display surfaces) over time. In one example, the additional set of 2D content includes plane or layer-jumping content that is handed off in a synchronized manner by the controller/control system to be displayed sequentially on differing ones of the display elements. For example, a 2D image of a character or animal (e.g., a bird) may first be displayed on the foreground display element and move about in this plane, and then second be displayed on the intermediate display element so as to appear further away from the viewer. Such handing-off of media from one display assembly and surface to another significantly heightens the illusion of depth and space of the display, and the size, shape, coloring/brightness, and the like of the additional or plane-jumping content may be modified with each jump or move to enhance the realism of an object or character moving further away (or closer toward) a viewer.
"More particularly, an apparatus is provided for generating or creating an autostereoscopic display. The apparatus has a foreground display assembly including a display element with a front surface and a rear surface and also including a projector projecting a first set of two-dimensional (2D) content onto the rear surface that is viewable by a viewer via the front surface. The apparatus also includes a background display assembly including a display element spaced apart from the foreground display element and with a front surface facing toward the rear surface of the foreground display element, the background display element displaying a second set of 2D content on the front surface of the background display element. Further, the apparatus includes an intermediate display assembly including a display element positioned between the foreground display element and the background display element with a front surface facing and spaced apart from the rear surface of the foreground display element and with a rear surface facing and spaced apart from the background display element, the front surface of the intermediate display element displaying a third set of 2D content. In practice, the foreground and intermediate display elements include films or screens that are at least partially transmissive to light (e.g., translucent to nearly opaque), whereby the displayed first, second, and third sets of 2D content are concurrently viewable via the front surface of the foreground display assembly to provide a 3D image or a display with depth and space.
"In some embodiments of the apparatus, the foreground display element and intermediate display element each include a film of at least translucent material and the foreground display assembly includes a projector projecting the first set of 2D content on the rear surface of the foreground display element. In such embodiments, the foreground display element may include a transparent projection screen film. Also in such embodiments, the intermediate display element may take the form of an optical shutter window or a transparent projection screen film. In these cases, the intermediate display assembly may include a projector projecting the third set of 2D content onto the front surface of the intermediate display element (e.g., to limit blow by as compared with using rear projection on this display element).
"In some exemplary implementations, the background display element may include an emissive display device with a monitor providing the front surface of the background display element (e.g., an LCD or other monitor). In some cases, frames of the first, second, and third sets of 2D content are displayed in a synchronized manner (e.g., frames of each set may be retrieved from an original 2D media file and then played/projected concurrently but in differing display layers or planes) to provide a combined 3D image in which the first set of 2D content is in a first display plane, the third set of 2D content is in a second display plane an offset distance from the first display plane, and the second set of 2D content is in a third display plane an offset distance from the second display plane. In such embodiments of the apparatus, the first, second, and third display planes may be parallel to each other with the offset distances being each at least about 6 inches (such as 10 to 18 inches or the like)."
For additional information on this patent, see: Reichow, Mark A.; Joseph, Daniel M.. Three Dimensional Display with Multiplane Image Display Elements. U.S. Patent Number 8646917, filed
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