3D monitors to hit shops this year

CeBIT: Sharp is showing off a 15-inch LCD screen that can display three-dimensional images, and says a commercial model is only nine months away

Consumer electronics manufacturer Sharp says is on track to bring a true 3D flat screen monitor to market before the end of this year.

At CeBIT, the company is demonstrating a prototype device that projects a three-dimensional picture that can be seen by users without the assistance of special visual aids.

It has been designed to send a different image to each eye -- so that the person looking at the screen sees in 3D, so long as they are standing at the correct distance from the monitor.

This technology is already used in Sharp's SH251iS mobile phone, on sale in Japan, and it was reported late last year that Sharp was working on both notebooks and flat-screen LCD monitors that can show three-dimensional images.

The company told ZDNet UK last week that the three-dimensional flat screen should be available in Europe soon.

"The 3D monitor should be launched commercially before the end of this year, priced at around 3,000 euros (around £2,000)," a Sharp spokesman said.

The prototype on display was a 15-inch flat screen. Sharp explained that the screen contained a 'parallax barrier TFT panel' that splits the light generated by the monitor such that alternate columns of pixels are seen by each eye, so that each sees a slightly different image.

For this to work, the user has to be positioned directly in front of the monitor and at the correct distance away -- which appeared to be around 40 to 50cm.

Sharp demonstrated how the 3D monitor could be used to improve gameplay, by showing a demo of Quake where the terrain, monsters and other items appeared in three dimensions. The company also believes that its new system could have applications in sectors such as medical imaging and molecular modelling.

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