3D, the sequel at a cinema near you sometime whenever


3D cinemas without the glasses just got a shot in the arm, this must be the sequel

Avatar first premiered in 2009 and at the time everyone raved about how in the future all movies would be shown in 3D. Just a few years later everyone realized that watching 3D movies through a pair of Clark Kent glasses was over hyped and over rated and then, just as suddenly as the 3D “trend” had appeared it, and all the 3D TV’s that had gushed onto the market all but disappeared. But now, 3D, the trend that should have been but never was might be making a comeback because researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL) have developed a 3D movie screen that works – crucially, without glasses.



3D screens that don’t need special specs aren’t new – some 3D TVs use what is called a “Parallax Barrier” to give a glasses free 3D effect. A parallax barrier is a series of slits on the screen that split up the image and force each eye to see a different set of pixels. If done correctly this can create the illusion of depth without the need for special glasses.

However, parallax barriers only work at specific distances and angles, which make them ill suited for most applications – including theaters. The MIT researchers have managed to adapt the parallax barrier to overcome these limitations, making a screen that provides a 3D experience for everyone in the room.


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The trick, apparently, is recognizing that people generally don’t move around that much while they’re watching a movie. They sit in fixed seats the whole time so, as a consequence, the screen doesn’t actually have to provide a 3D experience from all angles and distances. It just has to provide a 3D experience at the specific angles and distances where people’s eyes are going to be.

The CSAIL researchers developed a custom screen, called Cinema 3D, that provides a unique parallax barrier for every person in the audience. Using a combination of mirrors and lenses, Cinema 3D can project a high-resolution 3D image to all the moviegoers in the audience.

While Cinema 3D is still in the early stages of development, and the current prototype is no bigger than a piece of paper, the researchers are already working on the next steps. They plan to build larger prototypes and refine the optics, so that future prototypes will use fewer lenses and mirrors that todays 50.

If everything pans out then we might be using Cinema 3D to watch the next three Avatar sequels and I know you just can’t wait to see those big blue characters pop out of the screen and into your personal space…

About author

Matthew Griffin

Matthew Griffin, described as “The Adviser behind the Advisers” and a “Young Kurzweil,” is the founder and CEO of the World Futures Forum and the 311 Institute, a global Futures and Deep Futures consultancy working between the dates of 2020 to 2070, and is an award winning futurist, and author of “Codex of the Future” series. Regularly featured in the global media, including AP, BBC, Bloomberg, CNBC, Discovery, RT, Viacom, and WIRED, Matthew’s ability to identify, track, and explain the impacts of hundreds of revolutionary emerging technologies on global culture, industry and society, is unparalleled. Recognised for the past six years as one of the world’s foremost futurists, innovation and strategy experts Matthew is an international speaker who helps governments, investors, multi-nationals and regulators around the world envision, build and lead an inclusive, sustainable future. A rare talent Matthew’s recent work includes mentoring Lunar XPrize teams, re-envisioning global education and training with the G20, and helping the world’s largest organisations envision and ideate the future of their products and services, industries, and countries. Matthew's clients include three Prime Ministers and several governments, including the G7, Accenture, Aon, Bain & Co, BCG, Credit Suisse, Dell EMC, Dentons, Deloitte, E&Y, GEMS, Huawei, JPMorgan Chase, KPMG, Lego, McKinsey, PWC, Qualcomm, SAP, Samsung, Sopra Steria, T-Mobile, and many more.

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