NICT Announces 6-faced, Touch-sensitive Cubic Display

Mar 10, 2009
Tetsuo Nozawa, Nikkei Electronics
The 3D cubic display is 10cm on a side.
The 3D cubic display is 10cm on a side.
[Click to enlarge image]

A Japanese research institute revealed that its cube-shaped 3D display, "gCubik," now has displays on all of its six faces rather than three as in the case of its predecessor (See related article).

Japan's National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT), which developed the gCubik, made this announcement at Interaction 2009, an symposium organized by the Information Processing Society of Japan.

Though the resolution is still low, the initial concept of "observing an 3D image from all sides, holding it in hand" has been realized.

The gCubik is a cubic display based on Integral Photography (IP), a technology that enables viewing of 3D images with the naked eye. The new version announced this time is about 10cm on a side.

With most 3D displays, a 3D image looks as if it is outside the display. On the other hand, with the gCubik, a 3D image looks as if it is inside the cube. In addition, when the cube is turned to see the image from different sides, the sides or the bottom of the image can be viewed depending on the side from which the image is viewed.

When the gCubik was unveiled in August 2008, only three sides of the cube were equipped with displays. This time, the frame area around the display was substantially reduced, and 3.5-inch VGA (640 x 480 pixels) LCD panels were mounted on all six sides. The 3D image on each panel changes every 6.7 degrees, displaying a total of 18 x 18 images, so that the image looks smooth when viewed from various angles.

The substantial number of pixels that determines the resolution of each panel is about 36 x 30, which is only a small increase from 32 x 24 for the previous model. However, the brightness has been tripled by enhancing the aperture ratio of the IP lens, according to NICT.

"An image in the previous gCubik could not be clearly viewed without placing it in a dark place, but it has been significantly improved," said Shunsuke Yoshida, one of the developers at NICT.

Moreover, resistive touch panels, 6-axis acceleration sensors and speakers were added to the new gCubik so that 3D images can be interactively controlled.

"We would like to improve it so that the image inside the gCubik moves, shakes and makes sounds when the user tries to touch the image or shakes the cube," Yoshida said.

This time, the image inside the cube slightly turns when the display surface is stroked with a fingertip.

In respect to the resolution, which is at issue, "if we use panels with a resolution of full HD or higher, it is possible to achieve a resolution acceptable to users," Yoshida said.