The display is the last component in a 3D processing chain. Nevertheless, it is a very important step since it is directly related to the 3D experience of the user. The concept of 3D displays has a long history stretching back to 3D stereo photographs in the late 19th century, through 3D movies in the 1950s, holographies in the 1970 and 3D computer graphics and virtual reality today. While 3D display technology in the past was reserved for professional applications, consumer devices have become available recently.
Several approaches exist for displaying 3D data reaching from stereoscopic over volumetric to holographic techniques. Stereoscopic displays are by far the most widespread category used in a wide variety of professional and consumer applications. Given a stereoscopic image or video the task of these displays is to create a binocular depth cue by projecting them simultaneously into the corresponding eyes. This can be achieved by different techniques, including:
- Passive anaglyph
- Passive polarization
- Active shutter
Depending on the application (mobile, home, cinema) these techniques can be used in different devices including:
- Head mounted displays
None of the display approaches is without its problems or limitations. It is still not clear which particular technology will dominate the future. While holographic and volumetric displays offer true 3D for special applications, stereoscopic displays will dominate the consumer market in the near future.