Sharp Unveils Details of Its New 3D LCD Display

Apr 5, 2010
Shinya Saeki, Nikkei Electronics
Sharp's new LCD display with which 3D images can be seen with the naked eye
Sharp's new LCD display with which 3D images can be seen with the naked eye
[Click to enlarge image]
Yoshisuke Hasegawa, general manager of the company's LCD business
Yoshisuke Hasegawa, general manager of the company's LCD business
[Click to enlarge image]
A 3D image displayed in the horizontal direction
A 3D image displayed in the horizontal direction
[Click to enlarge image]

Sharp Corp announced April 2, 2010, that it has developed a touch-sensitive LCD display with which 3D images can be seen with the naked eye.

The display is aimed at mobile devices, such as mobile phones, smart phones and portable game consoles, that are equipped with a 3- to 5-inch display. The company plans to start shipping the touch-insensitive version of the 3D display in volume within the first half of 2010.

In Sharp's small- and medium-size LCD display business, the ratio of 3D displays will be 10 to 20% in fiscal 2010 and 50% in and after fiscal 2011, the company said.

"In the future, we would like to replace all of our existing small- and medium-size 2D LCD displays with 3D displays," said Yoshisuke Hasegawa, general manager of Sharp's LCD business.

Reentering market with parallax barrier method

In the front part of the newly-developed 3D display, there is a panel that has a parallax barrier (a slit that partially blocks light) so that the display can show different images to the right and left eyes. The panel with the parallax barrier creates slits by controlling liquid crystal molecules. Therefore, when light is not being blocked, it can show 2D images.

The number of viewpoints is one. And the most appropriate distance to watch the display is about 30cm (right in front of the display). But it is possible to view 3D images without any problem from a distance of 25 to 35cm because the appropriate distance can be adjusted by fine-tuning the distance between the LCD panel and the parallax barrier, Hasegawa said.

When 3D images are shown by using a parallax barrier, the pixels of a panel are alternately allotted to the right and left eyes, lowering the resolution in the horizontal direction by half.

In 2002, Sharp announced a technology that enables to view 3D images with the naked eye by using a parallax barrier. And, during the period from 2002 to 2005, it had applied the technology to sevaral devices including mobile phones and notebook PCs. But, partly due to the shortage of contents, those efforts did not yield satisfactory results, Hasegawa said.

Three problems solved

In the past, Sharp's 3D LCD display had the following three technical problems. First, its brightness and resolution lowered when 3D images are displayed. Second, a parallax barrier made the display thick, making it difficult to freely design mobile devices. Third, 3D images could be viewed either in the longitudinal or horizontal direction, and it is difficult to employ the display for devices that can be used both in the longitudinal and horizontal directions.

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