3D television may be on the rise, but let's be honest--no one really wants to put on a clunky pair of glasses whenever they sit down to vegg out. According to TechnologyReview, Microsoft's Applied Sciences Group is working on a new type of lens that may send 3D TV's worst accessory packing.
This new type of lens is thicker at the top, thinner at the bottom, and is able to guide light to a viewer's eyes by turning light-emitting diodes, located at the bottom edge of the display, on and off. It also has a backlight and can be used instead of backlights found in traditional LCD displays. This sort of setup allows different images to be shown to different eyes, of different viewers, leading to a 3D effect. To accomplish this intimate delivery of images, a camera is used to track the eyes of those watching the screen.
As of now, the technology is still pretty limited, and probably won't be seeing the inside of your living room anytime soon. The current prototype can show a 3D image to a maximum of two viewers at the same time, regardless of what angle they are sitting at. This differs from other glasses-less displays that have been developed by other companies which require users to sit at specific viewing angles. With a 2D image, four people can watch at the same time. This makes the display useless to larger families and large gatherings (read Super Bowl and World Cup).
Until this sort of 3D display matures, practical application of this technology would include smaller electronics, such as handheld gaming systems, smartphones, and other portable devices. If applied correctly, this particular lens could also allow users to direct light to their eyes only, removing the need for privacy protectors when dealing with sensitive information at work. No production plans have been announced.