Sharp unveils 3D displays that require no glasses

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The Independent Tech

Japanese electronics giant Sharp unveiled Friday a liquid crystal display (LCD) touchscreen that shows 3D images without requiring special glasses, as the race to market such products intensifies.

Although Sharp has not given specific plans, there is speculation that it will equip video game giant Nintendo's upcoming DS console due out next spring, which will feature games in 3D. Both companies have commercial ties.

A user can see three-dimensional images at a distance of 30 centimetres (12 inches) from the Sharp screen without having to wear special glasses that are currently required when watching 3D movies.

Sharp's 3D screen overcomes the need for special glasses by using parallax to display different images to each eye to give the illusion of three dimensions while retaining image clarity.

Sharp has been working on 3D product development since 2002 but earlier efforts suffered from poor picture resolution and brightness, explained Sharp's LCD business manager Yoshisuke Hasegawa.

Since then Sharp said it has improved image quality to the extent where it is ready to launch a series of new 3D screens, and plans to start production in Japan by September.

While touchscreens will not be part of the initial phase of production, potential applications include mobile phones, digital cameras, digital photo frames and games consoles, the company said.

"We have customers in various sectors that have shown interest," said Hasegawa, who declined to give names but said interested parties included phone makers.

Sharp, which tops Japan's cellphone market, eventually plans to offer portable phones, computers and other electronics products equipped with the 3D screens.

Hasegawa declined to say whether Sharp would supply displays for Nintendo's new 3D device, tentatively called the Nintendo 3DS.

The Japanese console giant announced a plan last week to release the device by the end of March 2011.

Sharp predicts that next-generation cellphones will all be equipped with 3D screens, but said their success would be dependent on the ability to function without the need for special glasses.

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