Sony Electronics has started marketing a new kind of 3D-like screen it calls a Spatial Reality Display (or SR Display).
I would love to explain it well, but it is, frankly, way the hell over my giant, hair-barren head.
What I can say is that it uses real-time eye-tracking paired with Light Field Display tech to make a small monitor that gives what viewers see shape and dimension that varies by the angle they are looking from.
It does this without VR headsets, special 3D glasses or the auto-stereoscopic lens overlays of “glasses-free” 3D displays.
Sony first showed this at CES back in January and is now marketing a very niche laptop-sized display that costs $5,000 USD.
Sony, in its PR, says the SR Display is aimed at highly-specialized use-cases like automotive and industrial design, computer graphics (CG) and Visual Effects (VFX) design.
“We’re excited to bring the world’s best technology to bear, moving the design and creation industry forward, particularly as the shift to digital has become so pronounced,” says Mike Fasulo, president and chief operating officer of Sony Electronics North America. “This technology drives new versatility, allowing us to advance an entirely new medium and experience for designers and creators everywhere.”
The Spatial Reality Display, Sony says, is made possible by several technologies:
High-speed Vision Sensor – The SR Display is based an innovative high-speed vision sensor which follows exact eye position in space, on vertical, horizontal and depth axes simultaneously. The display monitors eye movement down to the millisecond, while rendering the image instantaneously, based on the location and position of the viewer’s eyes. This allows creators to interact with their designs in a highly-realistic virtual, 3D environment, from any angle without glasses.
Real-time Rendering Algorithm – Additionally, the SR Display leverages an original processing algorithm to display content in real-time. This allows the stereoscopic image to appear as smooth as real life, even if the viewer moves around.
Micro Optical Lens – The micro optical lens is positioned precisely over the stunning 15.6 inches (diag.) LCD display. This lens divides the image into the left and right eyes allowing for stereoscopic viewing with just the naked eye.
The product has a developer kit designed to make it easy for creators to build content with familiar tools like Unity and Unreal Engine, so creators can work within an already-familiar production environment, and can be used to develop interactive applications in gaming, VR, construction, and automotive design.
For filmmakers, graphic artists, engineers and product designers in corporate and industrial settings, the cutting-edge 3D visual technology of the SR Display delivers a futuristic, yet highly practical visual experience, where detailed colors, textures, contrasts and brightness fuse, to form a new medium for image, character and product design and visualization.
For example, in the automotive industry, there is potential to integrate the product early on in the new vehicle design ideation process, improving quality, speed and the tangible nature of the concepts themselves.
“At Volkswagen, we’ve been evaluating Sony’s Spatial Reality Display from its early stages, and we see considerable usefulness and multiple applications throughout the ideation and design process, and even with training,” says Frantisek Zapletal, of VW’s Virtual Engineering Lab. “We’re excited to continue blazing trails and collaborating with Sony to find practical use cases for this innovative product at Volkswagen.”
The display is also being used by the producers, which include Sony Pictures, on animated character development for a new Ghostbusters film scheduled for release in 2021.
The SR Display will be available to order on Sony’s direct e-commerce site and other retailers in November.
Sony will be hosting a virtual demo of this product on October 22, 2020 at 12pm PT for creators to see how the product works and to ask questions. If you are interested in attending the demo, please register here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/webinar-tickets-125056632755
It’s interesting as a very niche product that probably has limited possibilities in the price-conscious, scale-driven world of digital signage. There are production and operations applications in everything from motion graphics to medical imaging, and there may be some luxury goods retailers and endowment-driven museums and exhibits that might see a role for this in wowing customers and visitors.
Like everything in tech, widespread adoption would drive costs down.
The closest thing I have seen to this is the hologram-ish Light Field Displays from Brooklyn’s Looking Glass Factory.
Dave Haynes is the founder and editor of Sixteen:Nine, an online publication that has followed the digital signage industry for some 14 years. Dave does strategic advisory consulting work for many end-users and vendors, and also writes for many of them. He’s based near Halifax, Nova Scotia, on Canada’s east coast.