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Change of Focus for Liquid Crystals

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 8 years ago | from the scientists-all-charged-up-about-new-discovery dept.

101

Dylan Knight Rogers writes to tell us PhysicsWeb is reporting that US physicists have discovered a new liquid-crystal lens design that can alter the focus by varying the voltage applied. From the article: "The new lens, which has been built by Shin-Tson Wu and colleagues at the University of Central Florida, allows the focus to be changed in a new way. The device consists of a mixture of liquid-crystal molecules and smaller N-vinylpyrrollidone monomers placed between two glass substrates, each of which is coated with a thin transparent layer of conducting indium tin oxide. They then placed a concave glass lens with a flat base on top of one of the substrates."

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Neat. (1)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 8 years ago | (#15376963)

This could be useful for LCD goggles for people who normally need glasses.

Re:Neat. (3, Interesting)

Who235 (959706) | more than 8 years ago | (#15376984)

I don't know about that one. I think I'll stick with glasses until they can make the LCDs (and power supplies) small enough to _not_ make me look any more like a frog than I already do.

I think a more realistic use would be for weapon sights and cameras.

Re:Neat. (2, Insightful)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 8 years ago | (#15377174)

I hope you don't mean the flickering ones for viewing 3d movies.
These things would be horrendous for that, imagine the focal length bouncing backwards and forewards 30 times a second, I bet most people would throw up within minutes.

Eyeglass wearers would be better getting a hud by using the actual ground eyeglass as a substrate for the standard LCD screen than mess around with this dynamic focusing solution.

Re:Neat. Bionic eyes? (2, Funny)

davidsyes (765062) | more than 8 years ago | (#15377527)

Visualize these in human bionic eyes. But, it WOULD be a problem if they independently focused on the same point to where you're running at bionic speeds...

hmmm.. slash image world "inbreed"

Re:Neat. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15377788)

Screw that, imagine these being used on a monitor, in front of individual pixels, or perhaps groups of pixels... You could emulate depth of field in hardware by playing with how the brain interpets focus!

Re:Neat. (1)

mikewolf (671989) | more than 7 years ago | (#15382429)

mod parent up.

Battery life... (5, Insightful)

HateBreeder (656491) | more than 8 years ago | (#15376978)

Picture it: A camera that could Auto-focus without any moving, mechanical parts.... faster and more energy efficient!

I wonder what's the percentage of power drained by a typical digital camera just for auto focusing under normal usage.

Re:Battery life... (2)

Dis*abstraction (967890) | more than 8 years ago | (#15377013)

That was my first thought, too. A camera like that would be incredibly exciting (a cell phone camera that doesn't have to suck)!

I'm not too familiar with optics or CCD technology, so forgive the question: what's been keeping us from developing a camera based on the same focusing principle as the human eye? Our lens stretches and contracts to adapt its focal length, and it not clear to me why it's been so difficult to adapt this principle to manmade optical equipment. Anyone got an answer?

Re:Battery life... (3, Insightful)

It'sYerMam (762418) | more than 8 years ago | (#15377063)

Mobile phone cameras suck due to more than their auto-focus. The tiny CCD means they're susceptible to noise, and the lack of decent optics means they won't work well in low light or be able to zoom well - regardless of an autofocussing lens. Furthermore, because an expensive camera has an automatic user filter and learning curve, pictures taken with mobile phones are always likely to be, on average, crap, due to the lack of skill of the photographer.

Re:Battery life... (5, Interesting)

Dis*abstraction (967890) | more than 8 years ago | (#15377103)

Using two lenses with adaptable focus, you'd be able to zoom without needing to change the barrel length, if my understanding is correct. This would simplify the mechanical requirements for variable focus and optical zoom to the point where it would make sense to include both features in consumer electronics.

Also, there's nothing stopping a professional photographer or cinematographer from putting film behind that felxible lens. Being able to ditch that truck full of heavy glass optics would be a great boon for professionals.

Re:Battery life... (1)

It'sYerMam (762418) | more than 8 years ago | (#15377134)

Good point. I've not read TFA, and I don't know the variation in focal length you'd get out of those small lenses... It's possible though, especially with technology refinement.

Re:Battery life... (3, Informative)

gwiner (685297) | more than 8 years ago | (#15377748)

I was a little disappointed after reading the article to see that this seems to be applied more for photonic switching, than camera optics. (Not that those things aren't cool too, but I had visions of self-focusing eywear, and tiny cameras) From the article:

The only snag with the new device is its long focusing time of about three minutes. This is because the lens is relatively large (9 mm), which means that molecular diffusion across it is slow. However, this should not be problem in micro-sized lenses in which the estimated response time is around 1 second at room temperature. The technique could also be used to make other adaptive microdevices such as prism arrays and phase gratings, say the researchers.

Re:Battery life... (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 8 years ago | (#15377987)

Cell phone lenses also suck because they are so small. The diameter of the lens determines not only how much light it can gather but also it's maximum resolution. Since this only works for micro-lenses (their 9mm one takes 3 minutes to focus) it won't work well for even something the size of a cell phone lens and it certainly won't help keep photographers from hauling around heavy glass.

Re:Battery life... (4, Informative)

Volanin (935080) | more than 8 years ago | (#15377096)

Our lens stretches and contracts to adapt its focal length, and it not clear to me why it's been so difficult to adapt this principle to manmade optical equipment. Anyone got an answer?

We might be not too far from that.
Check out these Fluidlenses [slashdot.org] .

Re:Battery life... (1)

Dis*abstraction (967890) | more than 8 years ago | (#15377156)

Awesome. Thanks for the link.

It's such an obvious concept that I'm still left wondering it hasn't been translated to manmade optics. FWIW, the lens in a human eye changes its focal length when a muscle pulls it from the outside--nature's simple solution to the problem of giving it adaptable focal length while still keeping it transparent.

eyes and lenses and such... (2, Insightful)

ecalkin (468811) | more than 8 years ago | (#15377123)

the human eye has a simple lens that provides focus on a curved (convex) surface. the good focus is right in the center and your eye moves around to maintain focus on whatever you're looking at.

    a regular camera Lens has many elements (glass pieces). even if you could make the glass 'variable', there would still be an amazing amount of complexity to make a clean sharp image on a flat surface (film or sensor).

eric

Re:eyes and lenses and such... (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 8 years ago | (#15377993)

Not to mention it's easy to make a cheap lens that's only good in the centre, much harder to make one that's reasonable all the way out to the edges.

Re:eyes and lenses and such... (1)

samkass (174571) | more than 8 years ago | (#15378007)

Not to mention the human eye has a neural net backing it to post-process the images.

Re:eyes and lenses and such... (1)

orasio (188021) | more than 8 years ago | (#15380538)

Maybe sensors don't need to be flat.

Re:Battery life... (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 8 years ago | (#15377319)

Did you have a material in mind? A durable one that doesn't need to be stored in an aqueous medium attached to a sophisticated chemical regeneration system?

name, name, inna name... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15377474)

I can't name the exact material but I bet it will have "nano" in its name whenever it is developed.

Transluscent adapative optical nanophlubber!

There ya go, just named it and covered initial marketing, the important stuff, now go to work ya slug-a-bed and make it happen.

Re:Battery life... (1)

Volanin (935080) | more than 8 years ago | (#15377037)

It also would be much thinner and lighter, complete with perfect Optical Zoom.
And with the current advancements in the digital sensors [slashdot.org] technology, soon cameras like the Creative CardCam [creative.com] will be possible with greater quality than today's cameras!

I wouldn't mind carring one in my wallet. =)

Re:Battery life... (2, Informative)

mikerozh (710568) | more than 8 years ago | (#15377093)

Most of the power is spent on the LCD diplay of the camera.

Re:Battery life... (1)

EchoNiner (930773) | more than 8 years ago | (#15377264)

Not nearly as much as is required for the viewfinder. Whenever that's on, my camera sucks down the power.

Re:Battery life... (5, Informative)

sco08y (615665) | more than 8 years ago | (#15377289)

A camera that could Auto-focus without any moving, mechanical parts

I'm not sure if that would work.

From TFA:

The only snag with the new device is its long focusing time of about three minutes. This is because the lens is relatively large (9 mm), which means that molecular diffusion across it is slow. However, this should not be problem in micro-sized lenses in which the estimated response time is around 1 second at room temperature.

I assume they're talking about lens diameter. It might work for smaller cellphone type cameras, though.

Re:Battery life... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15378296)

This isn't even in development as a product yet, since it's a new type of lens entirely. There might be a few ways yet that -will- make it fast enough for normal sized cameras.

Re:Battery life... (1)

greyduk (966196) | more than 8 years ago | (#15378514)

My cell phone camera's lense is around 5 milimeters accross... so according to TFA, it would still have a foucs time of just over a minute and a half. Kinda gets rid of the spontaneous opportunities that cell cameras provide.

Re:Battery life... (2, Informative)

Rah'Dick (976472) | more than 7 years ago | (#15382692)

A camera that could Auto-focus without any moving, mechanical parts

I'm not sure if that would work.

Maybe not with this kind of technology, but it's already been done: Light Field Photography with a Hand-Held Plenoptic Camera [stanford.edu] . Check out the videos at the bottom of the page - digital refocusing of still images is just awesome.

Re:Battery life... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15377763)

Batteries on analog cameras last for years. The Autofucus function is not the primary power consumer.

Not for monitors just yet (1, Redundant)

From A Far Away Land (930780) | more than 8 years ago | (#15376979)

"The only snag with the new device is its long focusing time of about three minutes. This is because the lens is relatively large (9 mm), which means that molecular diffusion across it is slow. However, this should not be problem in micro-sized lenses in which the estimated response time is around 1 second at room temperature."

I take it that means that LCD monitors will not be using this technology any time soon?

Re:Not for monitors just yet (4, Informative)

x2A (858210) | more than 8 years ago | (#15376987)

What would LCD monitors use it for? It's you that focuses your eyes on them, not them that need to focus on you.

Re:Not for monitors just yet (4, Interesting)

From A Far Away Land (930780) | more than 8 years ago | (#15377012)

"It's you that focuses your eyes on them, not them that need to focus on you."
In Soviet Russia, LCDs focus on you?

Seriously though:
Would there be no application to use LC Lenses in conjunction with a current LCD monitors to create a screen with depth through the use of lense trickery? I don't know oodles about optics or 3D technology, so maybe I misunderstand how it would work, but it seems to me that these changable lenses might be capable of providing a 3D monitor that doesn't require polarized glasses or some other filter.

Re:Not for monitors just yet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15377077)

what? if it was normal for people to have binoculars or something attached to their screens i could see you making such a statement... but what are you talking about? 3D? i guess having a bunch of these to focus different parts of the screen would be technically possible but sounds kind of far fetched and might as well be done in the image itself in software before it even gets to your monitor.
/so confused

Re:Not for monitors just yet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15378837)

if it was normal for people to have binoculars or something attached to their screens

Welcome to Brazil!

Re:Not for monitors just yet (1)

Dis*abstraction (967890) | more than 8 years ago | (#15377194)

Yeah, it's been done. [trond.com] :-)

I'm not sure (yet) how you'd use liquid crystal lenses to give you 3D displays, but it'd be cool to have a display sitting at regular display distance, but where the image looks like it's a movie screen, movie screen distance away. Could reduce eyestrain a lot, though you'd have to keep your head "in the zone" to see the whole image at once. And you could do it with a regular lens.

Re:Not for monitors just yet (3, Insightful)

silentbozo (542534) | more than 8 years ago | (#15377229)

If every pixel on the screen had its own lens that could throw the focus such that you'd have to focus either closer or farther, you could use the z-axis parameter in 3-d games (Half-life 2, for example) to render objects with different screen focus levels. It still wouldn't solve the problem of 3d, since both eyes would still perceive the same information - so there wouldn't be the overlap in view you would normally get from observing a real object, however you would get focal depth information.

What might be interesting is pairing this technology with 3D-goggles so you can finally combine the focus depth information with the overlap of two screens, for training applications.

Re:Not for monitors just yet (2, Funny)

x2A (858210) | more than 8 years ago | (#15377922)

No - to create depth you need to give the left and right eyes slightly different views... all adding lenses would do is blur the image, which you can easily do with software (by blending pixel colours) or drinking heavily*

* although drinking can give you two seperate images, it's the act of combining them that gives you the 3D image, which in this case, would still be a flat screen.

Re:Not for monitors just yet (1)

Nick Jackolson (975606) | more than 8 years ago | (#15378675)

Soviet Russia? Last I checked it was USA spying on their citizens, not Russia.

Russia was last decade.

Re:Not for monitors just yet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15382269)

There are two ways your brain interprets 3D.. one is the amount your eye needs to focus to see the image, but more important is the different images that your two eyes see due to perspective. Polarized glasses work by allowing different images to be projected to each eye - which these micro lenses are incapable of.

Second your eyes learn the association between focal distance and the amount of convergence required to see an object at a certain distance.. breaking this association by artificially changing the focus of various portions of the screen would be very confusing, and probably make someone sick.

If the microlenses work well and have a decent response time, they could be great in head-mounted displays for 3D virtual reality. For one, the optics necessary for HMD's are currently very clunky, suffer from various optical effects, and only provide one focal distance for the whole image. Being able to lens each pixel (assuming the lenses are strong enough) would allow for much lighter displays and more realistic 3D since the focal distance can be tuned along with the steroscopic effects.

Re:Not for monitors just yet (1)

cptgrudge (177113) | more than 8 years ago | (#15377014)

In Soviet Russia, LCD screen monitors you!

Re:Not for monitors just yet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15377239)

or even, In Soviet Russia, LCD's adjust your resolution!

Re:Not for monitors just yet (1)

Firehed (942385) | more than 8 years ago | (#15377054)

Wait for the Telescreens. IIRC, Apple made something like it recently. I'm sure it's quite useful tech, be it for your videoconferencing or Spy Program Rev2.

Re:Not for monitors just yet (1)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 8 years ago | (#15377139)

What would LCD monitors use it for? It's you that focuses your eyes on them, not them that need to focus on you.

Yes, but in Soviet Russia...

Re:Not for monitors just yet (1)

miruku (642921) | more than 8 years ago | (#15377234)

what about Apple's All-Seeing Screen [slashdot.org] ?

Re:Not for monitors just yet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15377283)

In Soviet Russia, LCD monitors focus YOU!

so we can find stereographs? (1)

way2trivial (601132) | more than 8 years ago | (#15377298)

or hey, ya know how when you've been staring at a screen so long your vision gets blurry? now that can be simulated!

illusion of depth (1)

Khashishi (775369) | more than 8 years ago | (#15377475)

LCD VR goggles could use technology like this (assuming improving technology) to help give the illusion of 3D. If you could build an array of these, perhaps you could give near and far objects different focal points.

Creating holographic images might be a better approach though.

Re:Not for monitors just yet (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15376992)

You're stupid. This isn't a liquid crystal display. It's a liquid crystal lens.

god almighty, drop the attitude (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15377071)

Original poster asked a misdirected question, but that doesn't make him "stupid." Is your condescension really helping you feel better about yourself, or do you think maybe it's just getting in the way?

Re:god almighty, drop the attitude (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15377099)

If you're fine with people filling this forum with stupidity, so be it. If you're fine with the world being filled with idiots, so be it also. I, on the other hand, do not suffer fools gladly, and I will continue to point out stupidity until the stupid change their ways.

Re:god almighty, drop the attitude (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15377136)

If being less than completely informed about a particular subject makes you stupid, it's no wonder your world is "full of idiots." It must be a very miserable world indeed.

Perhaps it's you who needs a change. Specifically, you sound like you'd be happier if you changed your typical-to-Slashdot attitude and learned to get along with people who are genuinely curious, and would appreciate the benefit of your knowledge.

Re:god almighty, drop the attitude (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15377178)

People who are so genuinely curious that they don't bother to understand what the article is about? The line between curiosity and stupidity is a fairly thick one. You should not confuse the two.

Re:god almighty, drop the attitude (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15377207)

All right, you arrogant little shitstain, have it your way.

Re:god almighty, drop the attitude (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 8 years ago | (#15377646)

"If you're fine with the world being filled with idiots, so be it also. I, on the other hand, do not suffer fools gladly, and I will continue to point out stupidity until the stupid change their ways."

So what do you do when you spew stupidity or act foolish?

Nice! (2, Informative)

smalgin (750257) | more than 8 years ago | (#15376991)

Wow, a device from the 'Dune'. they had neat binoculars based on the same principle if I remember correctly...

Re:Nice! (1)

quanticle (843097) | more than 8 years ago | (#15377309)

Congrats for beating me to the reference. As I recall, in Dune, a droplet of electro-conductive oil served as the lens, providing zoom, autofocus, and adaptive optics in a single system.

Great scott! (5, Funny)

flobberchops (971724) | more than 8 years ago | (#15377047)

Great scott! *LCD monacle pops out*

Re:Great scott! (1)

MachDelta (704883) | more than 8 years ago | (#15377126)

Don't you mean... *Monocle* [vgcats.com] ?

Re:Great scott! (1)

sharkey (16670) | more than 7 years ago | (#15383383)

Those things are expensive! You should really try to stop being so surprised.

Isn't that an old story? (3, Interesting)

rduke15 (721841) | more than 8 years ago | (#15377058)

I remember reading 1 or more years ago (here on /. ?) a very similar story about a new lens. It was thought to be used in mobile phones and such, being a very small lens, with no moving parts, focusing being only done through the voltage applied.

Would someone still have a link to that old story?

Doesn't it sound similar? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15377072)

http://www.research.philips.com/technologies/light _dev_microsys/fluidfocus/index.html [philips.com]

Video of this lens working
mms://ntstream2.ddns.ehv.campus.philips.com/efi/86 090/fluid_focus/fluid_focus.wmv

Philips' FluidFocus system mimics the action of the human eye using a fluid lens that alters its focal length by changing its shape.

Re:Isn't that an old story? (5, Interesting)

Volanin (935080) | more than 8 years ago | (#15377089)

Are you talking about this [slashdot.org] or this [slashdot.org] ? ;-)

Re:Isn't that an old story? (1)

rduke15 (721841) | more than 8 years ago | (#15377092)

And here is the /. story about it from 2004:
Philips Develops Fluid Lenses [slashdot.org]

Now let's see how this is different...

Novel invention, novel uses (5, Interesting)

xkr (786629) | more than 8 years ago | (#15377094)

I doubt this system will replace mechanically focusing a camera lens.

However, this might be used as a way to optimize solar panels as the sun moves across the sky, or to change the field pattern for headlights or taillights to better match current driving conditions.

Re:Novel invention, novel uses (1)

Volanin (935080) | more than 8 years ago | (#15377115)

Novel invention, novel uses.

It also could be used to blur the glass between you and a stripp-- what? slashdot? Heck, wrong forum again!

Re:Novel invention, novel uses (1)

From A Far Away Land (930780) | more than 8 years ago | (#15377133)

Might it also be used in windows, so that unwanted light could be blocked at times, then the lens would be adjusted to let more light through?

blocking windows (1)

rabiddeity (941737) | more than 8 years ago | (#15378059)

Might it also be used in windows, so that unwanted light could be blocked at times, then the lens would be adjusted to let more light through?

But if you blocked all unwanted light from Windows, you'd get a black screen. How is that useful?

The only snag..... (0, Redundant)

Proudrooster (580120) | more than 8 years ago | (#15377147)

FTA: The only snag with the new device is its long focusing time of about three minutes.

Re:The only snag..... (1)

cnettel (836611) | more than 8 years ago | (#15377225)

For a far larger lense than in any pocket camera, that is. (Not mentioning any possibility for optimization of the crystal structure to accomodate for this large-scale diffusion.)

Re:The only snag..... (1)

altek (119814) | more than 8 years ago | (#15377369)

Meh... I remember a while back being told that CD burning would never be faster than 8x due to physical limitations...

Re:The only snag..... (1)

idonthack (883680) | more than 8 years ago | (#15377423)

Not a big problem, you just have to use it for something that doesn't need a quick focus. This other comment [slashdot.org] talks about optimizing solar panels. Since the sun takes a whole twelve hours to move accross the sky, they don't need to change very fast.

Augmented Reality (4, Insightful)

jonnyboy777 (876556) | more than 8 years ago | (#15377164)

Perhaps this could help us on our way to stereoscopic head mounted displays that don't induce migraines after extended use (slight sarcasm here). Current technology primarily plays with parallax while keeping a fixed although often tunable focal distance, but LCDs with many microlenses could vastly help things. The perceived images would be much more realistic, as well.

Re:Augmented Reality (1)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | more than 8 years ago | (#15379699)

Not with 1 second to 3 minute respose times... the eye moves too fast.

But what about... (1)

Dersaidin (954402) | more than 8 years ago | (#15377213)

SED [wikipedia.org] FTW

Can someone translate? (-1, Offtopic)

moderators_are_w*nke (571920) | more than 8 years ago | (#15377280)

I only speak computer-geek. I can't do electronics geek or optics geek.

University of Central Florida (0)

acidrain69 (632468) | more than 8 years ago | (#15377297)

UCF in the hiz-ouse!

Maybe we will be known for something besides the guys who did Blair Witch?

Re:University of Central Florida (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15377449)

...or for being the college with the highest incidence of VD among its student population...

Re:University of Central Florida (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15379159)

Don't go bareback when you're taking on three guys at once anymore and you won't have to worry so much about it.

Re:University of Central Florida (1)

adinb (897001) | more than 8 years ago | (#15377452)

Hey, we had a hell of a programming team when I was there. And the optics/physics labs there are really top notch.

Of course, in the spirit of full discosure, my dad is a professor emeritus from UCF, so I'm a little biased.

Not for monitors at all! (0, Redundant)

Spock_NPA (12762) | more than 8 years ago | (#15377308)

I know Slashdoters don't read the article before posting, but gosh darn it.. It was never implied in the article that this technology would be adapted for LCDs. Just because something involves "liquid crystal" doesn't automatically mean it's an LCD technology. What we have here is basically a very neat new way of creating an adjustable micro lens. Aside from lenses, "[t]he technique could also be used to make other adaptive microdevices such as prism arrays and phase gratings".

Spiral Lens (1)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 8 years ago | (#15377433)

A while ago on slashdot there was a story [slashdot.org] about a spiral lens that would enable us to actually see planets of distant stars. Only drawback was that no material known to man is able to construct a lens of such quality. Perhaps with this and other new (as of yet unknown) advances in lens creation technique we will someday be able to construct such a device. The singularity is near......

Old news (1)

brian0918 (638904) | more than 8 years ago | (#15377464)

I remember hearing about these lenses at least a few months ago, probably last year even. There was talk that they could someday be implemented into cell phones, letting them zoom to magnifications you normally get with $1000 lenses on professional cameras, simply by altering the voltage applied across the lens.

Dupe (2, Informative)

brian0918 (638904) | more than 8 years ago | (#15377470)

This looks like a dupe from a story from last December [slashdot.org] , I think.

Re:Dupe (1)

jamie (78724) | more than 7 years ago | (#15381731)

No, that's not a dupe. A dupe is when Slashdot runs substantially the same story twice, typically over a period of a few days. What you've found is an interesting related story from over a year ago.

I've added it to this story's Related Links, so thanks... but it's not a dupe.

Who cares about autofocus cameras... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15377578)

What I want is autofocus eyeglasses in my lifetime.

Stereo 3D with Focal Depth.. & healthier eyes (3, Interesting)

gruthen (844338) | more than 8 years ago | (#15377631)

Sharp have an LCD screen [sharpsystems.com] which can deliver a different image to each eye. These screens allow each eye to see alternate columns of pixels. Combine this (or any other stereoscopic system) with the Liquid Crystal Lense and you'd have a very convincing 3D effect. LCL could also have Occ Health & Safety benefits. Your eyes could be exercised by each window having a different focal depth. Fitter eyes = less need for glasses.

Discovered? (1)

Corson (746347) | more than 8 years ago | (#15377787)

Discovered or invented?

Re:Discovered? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15378787)

also, "Shin-Tson Wu" clearly sounds like one of the authentic "US scientists"

Where are the rednecks now screaming 'Stop Immigration'

Re:Discovered? (1)

Gunasmorgel (976383) | more than 8 years ago | (#15379608)

Evolved. Over millions of picoseconds as incongruent crystals within the lens found resonance frequencies that gradually changed the lens response in an enviroment of an oscillating voltage.

Yeah, hold on... (0, Offtopic)

tehlinux (896034) | more than 8 years ago | (#15377825)

I forgot to put in the crystals

More than 10 years old (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15378012)

Similar systems have been tested from at least 1996.
http://guernsey.et.tudelft.nl/group/project_loktev .html [tudelft.nl]

Rifle Optics... (1)

Tesko (719892) | more than 8 years ago | (#15378385)

This could definitely be a revolution in rifle optics (a.k.a. scopes), I'd love to see someone implement this technology. It would mean a much smaller and more compact device, even with a small battery pack, I just wonder how rugged it could be...

disgusting (1)

sgt scrub (869860) | more than 8 years ago | (#15379943)

Think of all the poor chinese children having to put all of those tiny mirrors on while sweating from the unbearable tin smelting pots.

Other uses for this technology (1)

Tycho (11893) | more than 7 years ago | (#15383245)

The article states that this technology could have many uses; with more work potentially liquid crystals that can change their thickness could improve current LCD technology.

One optical property of minerals in rocks in the field mineralogy used in identifying
minerals is something called interference colors. To characterize the history of a rock and its constituent minerals, sometimes, a rock is cut into pieces and a thin slice is cut from one of the newly cut surfaces. After more cutting and some polishing, the resulting slice is supposed to be 30m (micrometers) for standard identification and is mounted on a microscope slide. At this thickness silicate minerals which are a large constituent of many different kinds of rocks, and while silicates may appear opaque in a rock, silicates are actually translucent and this feature is brought out in thin section. In addition to being translucent most silicates are crystals and the liquid crystals in LCD panels are both optically anisotropic.

Assuming one had two polarizing films on top of each other at ninety degrees no light would pass between them like most people discovered in grade school science. However, if you put a crystal that is optically anisotropic between these two films and either rotate the crystal or change anisotropy of the crystal though electricity, in the case of the liquid crystal in the case of an LCD screen, the light gets bent in such a way that the light that passed though the first filter actually would actually pass though the second polarizing film. This is basically how LCD screens work and this property is also useful in identifying minerals. Another property of anisotropic minerals is how much each wavelength of light is slowed down which results in the color of the crystal to change; this color is known as the interference color. The interference color also depends on the thickness of the mineral if the slide has been poorly made. The range of interference colors range the entire spectrum and in some cases interference colors can look fluorescent or even pearlescent.

This article seems to mention that with this technology the thickness of a cell of a liquid crystal could be changed. With the right type of liquid crystal, one could make a liquid crystal screen that would use interference colors to produce a full range of colors. Such a display would have a larger gamut of colors that current LCD screens and even CRT monitors and could be capable of unusual color effects.

Two words: (1)

jafac (1449) | more than 7 years ago | (#15383683)

Adaptive Optics.

(like the kind used for countering atmospheric distortion in large telescopes and, er. . . giant lasers)
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