Screens have come a long way from the archaic cloudy CRT displays, to clear digital LED screens, to the new age 3D screens. The year 2010 may well be remembered in tech circles as the year of 3D: when x, y, and z ruled the roost.
Though the technology has been there, it is only now that 3D has caught the fancy of the public. It all started, probably, with James Cameron’s Avatar smashing box office records worldwide. The film was released in a 3D version and a normal 2D version. When the movie going public watched the film in 3D, it simply blew them away. And that’s all it took.
Everything now is in 3D.You have all the recent Hollywood releases in 3D and in 2D (hoping to cash on in Avatar’s success). Major sporting events such as the Soccer World Cup in South Africa can be viewed in 3D (the experience is similar to the one you have at a stadium). Television sets now come with a 3D screen: You could watch all your favorite shows in a 3-dimensional plane.
How about playing your favorite video game in 3D? Three researchers at the Carnegie Mellon University – Srinivasa Narasimhan, Takeo Kanade, and Peter Barnum – have designed a 3-dimensional screen on which you can play classic arcade games like Tetris. This 3-dimensional screen is not like the usual screen. It is made up of a liquid that keeps us alive: water.
The researchers have found a way to display images on three layers of water, placed one behind the other, to structure a volumetric display. In other words, 3D images on a screen formed by continuous droplets of water.
One ‘fluid’ screen is formed by 50 stainless-steel needles that are attached to a PVC pipe. As the needles release droplets of water, alternating images are projected rapidly on the multiple screens. The droplets of water on each screen are carefully synchronized by a computer in order to maintain the visual illusion of a continuous screen. All of this happens in real time. For the human eye, it is like watching concrete images on a fluid screen.
Playing Tetris on the floating screen is different from the regular 2D experience. The depth perception makes the game much more appealing and interesting. Fluid screens may be the next step in display technology. They still have a long way to go in order to become the standard as far as a viewing display is concerned.