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Science fiction movies like the original Star Wars depict volumetric displays showing 3D objects that appear to occupy real space, just as in life. You can examine the top, bottom and sides of displayed objects when you move your head, bringing them dramatically closer to the appearance of physical reality.
Of course, in this dream scenario, there are no 3D glasses.
In reality, such a display would be a game-changer for anyone who designs 3D objects: industrial designers, architects, engineers, game developers and computer graphics artists for motion pictures. Such a display would also constitute a breakthrough for detailed scientific visualization of 3D objects in biochemistry, geology, Geographic Information Systems and other disciplines.
Sony’s Spatial Reality Display is the realization of that dream.
Sony’s Spatial Reality Display works with a PC and a 3D computer graphics platform to deliver glasses-free stereoscopic 3D viewing and images that pivot immediately in response to head movement. The result is visual magic: an overwhelming impression of 3D reality. Even jaded design and computer graphics professionals are blown away.
A breakthrough for viewing 3D computer graphics, the ELF-SR1 Spatial Reality Display consists of a 15.6” diagonal 4K LCD panel angled in the supplied stand at 45°. The panel, which has over 8 million pixels, displays independent left- and right-eye images, each with about half the pixels. A micro optical lens in front of the LCD panel separates the two images and directs each to the correct eye. This creates the powerful illusion of a 3D scene that extends in front of the screen surface. While impressive, the effect becomes even more compelling as you move your head. The system immediately pivots the 3D scene in response to movement, maintaining the illusion of real 3D objects. You’re free to look around, exploring the scene from different angles.
The secret is an eye sensing camera built into the bezel of the display. This outputs video data via USB 3.2 to a Windows® 10 PC. An advanced real-time rendering algorithm in Sony’s Spatial Reality Display Runtime Software interprets the eye sensing data and directs supported game engines to immediately pivot the scene according to your head motions.
The Spatial Reality Display is supported by two of the world’s top 3D content production platforms: Unity® and Unreal® Engine*1 . In this way, the Spatial Reality Display is ready to work with a large library of existing virtual reality content.
*1 Recommend use of "high resolution, quality images" created using Unity or Unreal Engine 4 software. Computer required with a recommended CPU of Intel Core i7-9700K @3.60 GHz or faster; and a graphics card such as NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 SUPER or faster. Only Windows 10 (64-bit) is supported.
Unique in configuration and brimming with proprietary technology, Sony’s Spatial Reality Display empowers you to see what could never be seen before. For designers, researchers and content creation professionals, the benefits are profound.
Since the first public demonstrations at CES 2020, the Spatial Reality Display has generated intense interest across many professions. Feedback from customer trials with evaluation samples has given us a preliminary glimpse at the potential markets.
In the words of company co-founder Akio Morita, “We do what others don’t.” The Spatial Reality Display is an expression of that ambition. Of course, the display also reflects Sony’s technological leadership in three fields.
The Spatial Reality Display represents a first-of-its-kind integration of all these world-class technologies. This is a compelling 3D experience you won’t find anywhere else.
As most professionals reading this document know, humans rely on depth perception every time we drive a car, reach for a pencil or hit a tennis ball. Since depth perception is so fundamental, it takes advantage of a broad range of visual cues. These include many cues evident in 2D monitors and projectors and even visible in Renaissance painting: occlusion, relative size and aerial perspective. 2D moving pictures provide another cue: camera motion parallax.
To appreciate the Spatial Reality Display, it pays to examine three additional cues that are crucial to depth perception and then see how different display technologies succeed or fail to employ them.
When we compare how different display types employ these depth cues. It’s clear that Sony’s Spatial Reality Display addresses the same cues as Virtual Reality headsets and CAVE automatic virtual environments.
VR headsets have gained traction for gaming and selected consumer and professional applications. For all their advantages, they place the user into an isolated environment divorced from the working world. You need to take off the headset to accomplish everything from most design tasks to answering emails and picking up the phone. The Spatial Reality Display acts like a second computer monitor, enabling you to instantly switch from 3D evaluation to all the other tasks that make up your day.
In addition, some users report a degree of discomfort while using VR. The Spatial Reality Display minimizes these issues.
CAVE automatic virtual environments continue to be the gold standard in 3D viewing. We’re proud that leading CAVE installations have selected Sony’s SXRD® 3D video projectors. However, CAVE viewing is not for everyone. You need a dedicated room – a substantial investment in real estate – in addition to the cost of multiple projectors, displays and CGI computers. CAVE also requires meticulous engineering, precise installation, careful calibration and 3D glasses. While CAVE is ideal for well-endowed research facilities, it’s out of reach for everyone else.
In addition, CAVE, like VR headsets, is not a good fit with the everyday work environment. While Spatial Reality literally fits on a desk, CAVE viewing takes researchers away from their desks altogether.
At first glance, Sony’s Spatial Reality Display appears to serve the same function as commercially available multi-view 3D monitors. A deeper dive reveals important differences and suggests substantially different applications and possibilities. While Sony’s Spatial Reality Display serves one user at a time, multi-view 3D monitors can serve several users simultaneously. Naturally, this capability involves significant tradeoffs.
These differences suggest that the Spatial Reality Display and multi-view 3D monitors offer substantially different performance.
*2 Eye sensing may not always work as intended depending on viewing conditions.
*3 Pixels close to the bezel are masked for a better 3D experience. A little pattern of lines may appear depending on
conditions and content, due to the display structure.