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Start-up offers desktop 3D display

08 Sep 2005

UK start-up Iris-3d believes its high resolution 3D display is ideal for visualisation tasks in a range of markets.

Iris-3d, a spin-out from the University of Strathclyde, UK, has developed a glasses-free 3D visualisation system that it hopes will take the oil and gas exploration, medical imaging and life science modelling markets by storm.

Based around a projection scheme, the company's system offers an impressive list of features including a stereoscopic resolution of 1600x1200 pixels (UXGA). Having already sold one of its products to Shell, Iris-3d is moving from strength-to-strength and is currently completing its first round of private-equity funding.

Iris3d was founded in December 2003 by Stuart Mckay, who is now the company's CEO. "Our technology is a personal workstation that users can work on for up to eight hours a day," he told Optics.org. "This requires no cross-talk [between images destined for the right and left eyes] and a high-resolution, high fidelity image."

Companies such as Sharp and Philips have already released autostereoscopic systems that do not require special glasses. These products however rely on a parallax barrier or a lenticular screen to generate the 3D image while Iris-3d uses dual image projector technology. According to Mckay, Iris's solution benefits from at least twice the resolution of other products and eliminates cross-talk.

Iris-3d's projection design is based around two conventional LCD panels. "Our system has one projector that feeds images exclusively into your right eye and a second that feeds images exclusively into your left eye," explained Mckay. "We use a set of combining optics to ensure there is no cross-talk. The other novelty is that we are using a concave mirror as the final viewing screen."

However, as with all autostereoscopic systems, there is an optimal viewing position. Mckay says Iris-3d's product has about ±100 mm of in-and-out movement and ±30 mm of lateral movement. The exit pupil is 130 mm in diameter.

"We have designed the system to be ergonomic so you can adjust where the exit pupil is positioned," said Mckay. "You get in our system and tune it to your settings. There is a motorised system to position the exit pupil on your face which allows you to get into a comfortable position."

The oil and gas industry already uses 3D visualisation technology, but in the form of immersive virtual-reality rooms. Mckay believes his company's technology offers a convenient, desktop alternative and the product is now being trialled at several other oil and gas firms.

Iris-3d is also hoping its technology will find uses in the medical imaging and drug discovery markets. "Slices taken by an MRI scanner can be processed and viewed in 3D for both diagnosis and surgical planning," concluded Mckay. "3D visualisation can also show you how a drug molecule interacts with a protein."

Jacqueline Hewett is technology editor on Optics.org and Opto & Laser Europe magazine.

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