In Search of a Problem

3D displays capture the imagination of a lot of people, but do not seem to capture many dollars from consumer pockets. But that doesn’t keep manufacturers from trying.

Years ago, Sharp developed an LCD technology that could present a different image to each of your eyes to create a three-dimensional image without goggles or special glasses. The principle is very similar to those plastic baseball cards that you could tilt to make the batter swing or throw or make some other move. They even made a desktop monitor for computers using this technology, but it never really took off.

Now it appears that they have dusted off the concept to create an LCD panel that doesn’t just show two images; it shows three different images. One potential application is to put it in a car so that the driver sees a GPS display, rear-seat passengers see a movie, and the right-seat passenger sees something else.

From where I sit, this is the perfect example of a solution in search of a problem. I don’t think that a three-way panel in a car’s dashboard is going to be a killer application; separate panels just don’t cost that much. Perhaps somebody will come up with a brilliant way to use this technology, but I suspect that it is going to languish on the shelf as another clever hack that, in the end, does something that people don’t really need.