Sharp unveils new handheld 3D screen

Is this the tech set for Nintendo 3DS?

Hot on the heels of Nintendo's announcement of a glasses-free 3D implementation for its new 3DS, Sharp has revealed technical details on the screen technology that many believe features in the new handheld.

As discussed previously, the screen itself uses a technique known as parallax barrier, where an array of vertical slits on the LCD work to divert different areas of resolution to each of your eyes, producing a stereoscopic 3D effect that doesn't require glasses. As the viewing angles are limited, the screen has been designed for smartphones, cameras and other handheld devices, making a potential implementation within the 3DS something of a no-brainer.

The resolution of the screen itself is pegged at 854x480 in 2D mode, which halves when running in stereo 3D: Nintendo, and hopefully developers, would have the option to use either mode depending on what works best for the game concept. Sharp says that the 3D effect works in both portrait and landscape modes. Touchscreen functionality has also been confirmed for the screen, although Sharp will be making conventional touch-free renditions of the LCD too.

Size-wise, Sharp's new screen has been confirmed at 3.4 inches, and despite the inclusion of the 3D tech offers much the same thickness as a traditional LCD. So both size and form factor are right for inclusion within the 3DS. Also impressive is that Sharp claims to have achieved a standard-setting 1000:1 contrast ratio for the new screen.

"The 3D LCD developed by Sharp at this time significantly improves image quality by achieving both high brightness and low crosstalk thanks to advances in CG-Silicon technology and optimisation of the parallax barrier," offers Sharp's press release.

"Advances in CG-Silicon technology have shrunk the wiring width within the LCD panel, allowing more light to pass and doubling the brightness (to 500 cd/m2, the industry’s highest) compared to the conventional model. In addition, optimising the parallax barrier design has increased the efficiency of light, thereby dramatically reducing crosstalk. Also, the thickness of the LCD module is about the same as conventional 2D displays even though it is a touchscreen display. As 3D images can be displayed in both portrait and landscape screen orientations, it is ideal for sophisticated mobile devices such as smartphones."

Reporting from the launch event, Akihabaranews.com describes the effect as "mind-blowing", but reckons that there can be some ghosting (the crosstalk Sharp describes) if you don't adjust the viewing angle to an optimal position.

"Regarding the Ghost effect, actually Sharp worked hard on this matter, however we have to admit this is not perfect… You will have to be on the sweet spot to get the perfect image," explains its reporter, 'Daimao', "However, notice that even if you’re not on the 'sweet point', frankly we are not sure if their competitors with their current LCD screens are capable of reaching this quality."

Whether this is the actual screen that will end up in the Nintendo 3DS remains an unknown. However, usually reliable sources in the Far Eastern press including the Asahi Shimbun newspaper believe that the deal is done and Sharp 3D LCD technology will be a key component in the new 3DS.

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