New Prototype: Watch 3D Movies Sans Awful Goggles

You might love going to the theater to catch the latest 3D movie to experience the world in ways that you usually couldn’t, however the downside are those awful glasses one has to wear. The irony is that you go to the theater for a new age experience and land up feeling like a welder, binoculars-clad bird watcher, or World War 1 fighter pilot at best — never mind the scratches and germ build up from multiple use.

It was only a matter of time before someone bridged the par between new vs old. The Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel and the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL) of MIT teamed up to create a prototype, nicknamed “Cinema 3D,” that uses a distinct assortment of mirrors and lenses to allow audiences to view a 3D movies from any theater seat at a consistently high resolution — just eyewear-free.


While viewing in 3D without glasses exists, it does not scale to theaters showing movies. In fact, TVs use a “parallax barrier” (a sequence of slits before the screen) that allows each eye to see a diverse group of pixels, generating a virtual sense of depth no matter where viewers are watching TV from in a room. However, this approach doesn’t work in a larger space, like a movie theater, where viewers are sitting at different angles and distances.

However, the significant difference with Cinema 3D vs TV 3D is that people in theaters move their heads over a small range of angles limited by the width of their seat and remain in a relatively fixed position for the duration of the film. This is enough to show images to a narrow range of angles and replicate that to all seats in the theater.

3D Cinema isn’t yet for the most part practical, or market-ready, as the prototype necessitates sets of 50 lenses and mirrors, nevertheless is hardly bigger than a paper notepad. However, theoretically, the equipment could function in all environments wherein 3D images might be presented to manifold individuals simultaneously — be it on billboard or ads on storefronts.

Co-author, MIT professor Wojciech Matusik, says that the researchers hope to develop a bigger adaptation of the demonstration and to improve the optics further in order to carry on improving the resolution of the image. It is also yet to be seen if the methodology is sufficiently economically viable to expand to a full size theater.