We do not generally see light field screens in the various devices on the market, however its technology is interesting for the future of autostereoscopic 3D screens, virtual and augmented reality glasses or even holograms. Are we facing the screens of the future or a technology that will pass for a simple anecdote like so many others?
Hace unos años se popularizaron las pantallas en 3D, las cuales a través del uso de unas gafas especiales nos permitían ver la imagen como si esta tuviese profundidad, no hacia fuera como tal y, por tanto, en dirección a nosotros, sino hacia adentro de the image. However, they ended up being a huge commercial failure and since then have never been heard from again.
However, despite the fact that bright field displays offer three-dimensional images from a two-dimensional screen, giving them a feeling of depth, they have nothing to do with this and they are autostereoscopic. In other words, they are designed to offer the same thing as those 3D screens, but without the need for glasses. It may remind us of Nintendo’s handheld console, 3DS, however, it was much more primitive using a parallax barrier.
First of all we must define what we understand as a field of light, and with this we refer to a vector-like mathematical function that stores in itself the information of all rays of light in three-dimensional space which flows from all the points and addresses it contains. We call this function the plenoptic function.
One type of camera that has appeared in recent years is the so-called bright field or plenoptic camera. Who intend to revolutionize photography by allowing something very simple yet impossible in a classic camera. Being able to change the focus of the image, which a normal camera cannot do once the photo is taken.
It does this using a completely different CCD than a camera, where the camera (the conventional camera) takes all the light rays that are in the scene you’re shooting and interprets them as a single light source. . This amounts to recording a concert on a single audio track. A pleno-optical camera, on the other hand, what it does is capture each of the light sources in the scene, storing the intensity of each and their direction, allowing each to be manipulated separately and to have the scene information from different points of view.
All of this is possible because bright field cameras use a special sensor to record color and light intensity which is different from conventional digital cameras. To do this, they use not only the classic lenses, but also a set of microlenses to collect light from different angles and which are located just behind the main lens.
In the end, everything becomes a large amount of information that a powerful specialized processor must interpret to generate an image. Thus, bright field cameras or pleno optics capture the light field of the environment. In other words, they capture the amount of light that travels in each direction at each point in space in the captured image, for later manipulation through a processor.
light field screens
Once we’ve explained how light-field cameras work, we need to explain the other extreme, which is light-field displays. We can therefore deduce that unlike conventional displays where the color value of each pixel is reproduced, bright field displays reproduce the light reflected from an object from the viewer’s point of view. So they’re going to need a retinal tracking system, usually cameras.
In other words, they are screens that, initially, depending on the angle from which we look at them, will offer us a different point of view and, therefore, can create a feeling of depth in the images they show . If with a pleno-optical camera we capture each of the light points of the scene and then store them in a different way, a light field screen requires generating the complete light field of the scene. Thus, different parts of the screen display slightly different angles of the same image or video, which means that when users look at the screen from different angles, they see the scene from different angles, creating a feeling of depth in the viewer’s brain.
Early light-field displays were designed to be viewed by a single viewer, but prototypes are currently being developed that allow multiple viewers to view them at the same time, in which each would see different versions of the same scene. The variation of light depending on the angle of view is essential to give a sense of depth to those who look at the scene.
The future of Virtual Reality?
One of the most important points facing virtual reality is going to be the tracking of our gaze to render the scene from the point of view of our own eyes in order to give greater credibility to the virtual environment. However, the use of bright field screens will mean a qualitative and quantitative leap.
The reason for this is that conventional LCD or OLED screens are currently used which do not provide that sense of depth to objects in the scene that a bright field display does. From the viewer’s point of view, he would be able to perceive objects in space, which in the case of augmented reality gains in power, since the elements of the scene will not seem at any time attached to the real image that we observe. .
The key to virtual reality is what is called telepresence and therefore tricking the viewer’s brain into believing that it is a real environment and not a virtual one. This is why the use of luminous screens is essential in the race for virtual reality to generate increasingly believable environments.
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