Thursday, January 13, 2011

Face tracking for 3D displays without glasses.

A number of manufacturers and research institutes have presented 3D display systems that utilizes real time face and eye region tracking in order to adjust the stereoscopic display in real time. This means that viewers doesn't have to wear any funky glasses to see the 3D content which has been a limiting factor for these displays. Some prototypes and OEM solutions were introduced at CEBIT last year. At CES2011 Toshiba presented a 3D equipped laptop that uses the built-in webcam to track the position of the users face (appears to be built around Seeingmachines faceAPI). It's an interesting development, we're seeing more and more of computer vision applications in the consumer space, recently Microsoft announced that they've sold 8 million Kinect devices in the first 60 days while Sony shipped 4.1 million Playstation Move in the first two months.

3D displays sans glasses at CEBIT2010

Toshibas 3D laptop sans glasses at CES2011.

Obviously, these systems differ from eye tracking systems but still share many concepts. So whats the limiting factor for consumer eye tracking then? 1) Lack of applications, there isn't a clear compelling reason for most consumers to get an eye tracker. It has to provide a new experience with a clear advantage and value. Doing something faster, easier or in a way that couldn't be done before. 2) Expensive hardware, they are professional devices manufactured in low volume with the use of high quality, expensive components 3) No guarantees, doesn't work for all customers in all environments. How do you sell something that only works under specific conditions for say 90% of the customers?

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