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Patent Issued for Multiplanar Image Displays and Media Formatted to Provide 3D Imagery without 3D Glasses

May 16, 2014

By a News Reporter-Staff News Editor at Entertainment Newsweekly -- A patent by the inventors Reichow, Mark A. (Valencia, CA); Joseph, Daniel M. (Los Angeles, CA); Sohan, Scott J. (Newbury Park, CA), filed on May 10, 2012, was published online on April 29, 2014, according to news reporting originating from Alexandria, Virginia, by VerticalNews correspondents.

Patent number 8711061 is assigned to Disney Enterprises, Inc. (Burbank, CA).

The following quote was obtained by the news editors from the background information supplied by the inventors: "The present description relates, in general, to three dimensional (3D) image generation, 3D media, and 3D display devices 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., multiplanar display systems providing a 3D display to viewers rather than projecting stereoscopic images requiring a viewing technology such as particular 3D glasses to be seen by an observer.

"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 others 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 remain numerous entertainment and other settings where it is desirable to create unique 3D visual displays to entertain and excite viewers. Further, though, it is desirable to create a display with 3D images without requiring the viewer to wear special headgear or glasses, e.g., without having to employ autostereoscopy or similar techniques. Such a 3D display system and method preferably would be relatively inexpensive to produce and would be useful in the presence of relatively bright ambient light."

In addition to the background information obtained for this patent, VerticalNews journalists also obtained the inventors' summary information for this patent: "To address these and other needs, a multiplanar display system has been developed that may be operated to provide 3D imagery or 3D displays without the need for observers to wear special glasses or headgear. A first (or foreground) display assembly is provided in the system and includes a first display element that is selectively transparent (i.e., translucent to transparent) to light. The first display element is positioned in the system to provide an outer surface or window to the display system, e.g., proximate to a viewer. The first display assembly is controlled or driven to display foreground images or content with the first display element.

"A second (or background) display assembly is provided in the display system, and it includes a second display element that is positioned a distance (e.g., 0 to 36 inches or more) away from a back or inner surface of the first display element. The second display element is controlled or driven to display background images or content. The two display elements provide two spaced apart planes, which are typically parallel to each other, upon which the foreground and background images are displayed. Further, the second display assembly includes a light source or backlight device (e.g., an integral or separate unit) that functions to light the second display element. Significantly, the output of the second display element strikes the back or inner surface of the first display element such that it is backlit by this output. As a result, the foreground images and the background images are concurrently visible on the outer or front surface of the first display element, with the spacing between the two display elements or image planes providing a 3D effect or depth/space to the output of the display system.

"The media content provided to the first and second display elements is configured or formatted to enhance the 3D display. For example, the foreground media stream or first display element input may be designed to define or provide transparent areas or portions on the first display element through which background images from the second display element may be projected or displayed. In other words, the background media stream or second display element input was matched to the foreground media stream to map the background images to be displayed to the transparent portions on the first display element.

"Further, since the second display element is used to backlight the first display element, the background media stream is matched to (and synchronized with) the foreground media stream so as to provide light to areas or portions of the first display element being used to display foreground images. This may include passing white or colored light through the second display element (i.e., this display element may also be selectively transparent or selectively transmissive to output from the backlight device) in areas or portions mapped to areas or portions of the first display element being controlled or driven to provide the foreground images.

"To further add to the complexity of the media streams, the two streams may be configured or designed to allow displayed images or objects to be passed or to move between the two display planes (front surfaces of the first and second display elements), e.g., portions of an object could be displayed on the background display element, then on the foreground display element while other portions remain on the background display element, and then moved back to the background image to cause an object to appear to move toward and away from a viewer of the display system. Again, this is achieved with careful synchronization (or timing control) of the input streams and also mapping of locations of the displayed images/objects on the two display elements.

"More particularly, an apparatus is provided for displaying a dimensional display such as a 3D effect without the need for special-purpose 3D glasses. The apparatus includes a foreground display assembly including a first planar display element with a front surface and an opposite back surface. Additionally, the apparatus includes a background display assembly including: (a) a second planar display element spaced apart from and parallel to the first planar display element, with the second planar display element including a front surface facing toward the back surface of the first planar display element; and (b) a light source operating to provide light to a back surface of the second planar display element. In an implementation, the first and second display elements are at least partially transmissive to light and operable, respectively, to concurrently display frames of a foreground image stream and frames of a background image stream provided as input media to the foreground and background display assemblies concurrently with the operating of the light source to provide the light.

"Further, the first planar display element may be a transparent light modulator, and the output light from the front surface of the second planar display element provides backlighting for the first planar display element. In such an arrangement, the first planar display element may be provided as a transparent liquid crystal display (LCD) panel, and the frames of the foreground image stream may include foreground images backlit by the output light. In some embodiments, the frames of the background image stream are each paired with particular frames of the foreground image stream.

"Then, the frames of the background image stream may include foreground lighting portions mapped in location to the foreground images to provide the output light to display the foreground images via the front surface of the first planar display element. Still further, the frames may include background image display portions at least translucent to the output light and the frames of the background image stream may include background images viewable via the output light passing through background image display portions of the first planar display element. In some cases, the second planar display element is provided as an LCD panel, and the light source is rated to provide at least 600 nits to provide backlighting of the two planar display elements. The front surfaces of the first and second planar display elements may be separated by a distance of at least 12 inches to provide a dimensional effect.

"The first and second surfaces are 'multiplanar' in the sense that they are positioned in spaced apart planes to achieve a desired parallax, e.g., parallel planes that are 2 to 12 inches or more apart. The content provided by the media input (foreground and background image streams) are viewable concurrently on the first and second display element 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. In one example, content provided by the media input 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 a physical object 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 from or closer toward a viewer."

URL and more information on this patent, see: Reichow, Mark A.; Joseph, Daniel M.; Sohan, Scott J.. Multiplanar Image Displays and Media Formatted to Provide 3D Imagery without 3D Glasses. U.S. Patent Number 8711061, filed May 10, 2012, and published online on April 29, 2014. Patent URL:

Keywords for this news article include: Entertainment, Disney Enterprises Inc..

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Source: Entertainment Newsweekly