Glasses-free stereoscopic 3D sounds like a great idea, right? Just sit down and watch the images reach out to you. Unfortunately, in practice, we've seen glasses-free 3D fall short, with a darkened 3DS display and reduced viewing angles on 3D HDTVs.

A group of researchers out of HP's labs wants to change all that with a new improved glasses-free display. The scientists say their new 3D display can produce holographic-like video with a full 180-degree viewing angle.

According to a MIT Technology Review report, the new screen developed by HP researchers uses so-called "directional pixels." These directional pixels are etched into the display as three nano-patterned grooves that direct the red, green, and blue light in one direction. After that, the light passes though a more standard LCD that converts the light into a moving image.

Supposedly, this display can produce a static 3D image with a 180-degree viewing angle from up to one meter away, while video playing at 30 frames per second has a viewing angle of 90 degrees.

While the 3D capabilities of this display are incredible, the actual visual quality of the display leaves more to be desired. HP's prototype units have resolutions of 88 pixels per inch and 127 pixels per inch, leaving it well behind a lot of the upcoming 1080p smartphones.

HP's science team says the one of the most promising uses they see for the display will be computer-generated images. For now, we'll just have to imagine that the many, many rumored smartwatches will be able to project a 3D map.

Be sure to check out MIT's Technology Review for the original report on HP's new 3D display.

[Technology Review andNature via Dvice]

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