Nov. 15 - British-based scientists have created a prototype grid of tilting televisions which they believe offers viewers the ultimate in 3D viewing. Jim Drury has the story.
It's a 3D movie like no other...and the creator of the nine-screen Tilt Display say it's not only ideal for entertainment but for a host of other practical applications, like planning journeys across difficult terrain. Lancaster University lecturer Jason Alexander says he was inspired by walking around the hilly English city of Bristol. SOUNDBITE (English) DR JASON ALEXANDER, COMPUTING LECTURER FROM UNIVERSITY OF LANCASTER, SAYING: "So when I looked at a map of Bristol I could see that I had to walk from A to B, but I didn't know whether that was a hilly route, whether I had to go through a valley or these kind of things. So I thought there must be a better way to render this on to a screen rather than just having a visual display." Working alongside Professor of Human-Computer Interaction Sriram Subramanian, Alexander has developed this prototype, split into a three-by-three screen configuration. Each sub-screen is programmable by computer to tilt in various directions to represent the three dimensional content displayed. The screens can be divided to let multiple users work separately or collaboratively. Subramanian, from the University of Bristol, says the Tilt Display has wide-ranging potential. SOUNDBITE (English) SRIRAM SUBRAMANIAN, PROFESSOR OF HUMAN-COMPUTER INTERACTION AT UNIVERSITY OF BRISTOL, SAYING: "We can easily use it for sharing photographs with different people or for looking at maps, so you can give terrain information on a device like this. Also what we've learnt through our user studies is that the motion, not just the physical state of the device but the motion gives people rich information about the nature of the terrain or the type of physical space that it's trying to represent so for an example you can have a fly-through of a holiday destination." When displaying landscape on video the displays showing the sky stay horizontal, while those focused on the ground raise and tilt to reflect the terrain's relative height. It works similarly to transform 2D images, giving them a third dimension. SOUNDBITE (English) DR JASON ALEXANDER, COMPUTING LECTURER FROM UNIVERSITY OF LANCASTER, SAYING: "Imagine you've been outside and taken a photograph of a flower, now this flower isn't a two-dimensional object, it's a three-dimensional object so wouldn't it be great if our display could actually show that to us." UPSOT: SCREEN MAKING CLICKING SOUND The duo ran user studies in conjunction with Finland's Nokia Research Centre. They say they'd like help from a manufacturer to produce commercial versions of different sizes, with varying numbers of screens. They think shape-changing devices like these will be commonplace within a decade, offering a new dimension to both still and moving images.