Floating 3D Display – Next Generation Technology for XR

Floating 3D Display – Next Generation Technology for XR

The current status and challenges of VR technology have raised expectations for "XR without Headsets." Floating 3D display refers to 3D display technology that uses various optical technologies to generate eye differences. In this article, we will use the latest examples to explain Floating 3D display and its possible uses in an easy-to-understand manner.


NTT DATA Information Technology Co.,Ltd.
He is involved in researching Metaverse-related technologies and products, and consulting with client companies.

1.Current VR Technology Issues

Virtual reality technology is growing more popular each day, but there are several disadvantages to consider before making the switch. VR can be isolating and uncomfortable and produce adverse physical and psychological effects. It also has a barrier of entry. People who used VR may have experienced one or more of The following experiences.

When you use a VR headset, your eyes have to focus on objects that are close to you and far away. This can cause a lot of eye strain, which can lead to vision problems over time.

When you’re in a virtual world, your brain can’t always tell the difference between what’s real and what’s not. This can cause nausea or motion sickness.

Also, virtual reality can be dangerous. There have been cases where people have suffered injuries while using virtual reality headsets. For example, if a person falls while wearing a VR headset, they could sustain a head injury.

Figure 1

So we can see the health and safety risks associated with using VR headsets are Virtual reality technology's main disadvantages. Such issues of VR technology have raised expectations for new XR Technologies without headsets. Floating 3D Display Technology is such a typical Next Generation Technology for XR.

2. Technology routes and features of the current Floating 3D Technology

Floating 3D Display, also known as medium-free aerial imaging, refers to the ability to project images into the air without any medium. Based on the principle of pupil light integration, Floating 3D Display technology calculates the surface arrangement of precision optical microstructure according to the visual characteristics of the human eye and the suspension position of the image.

After the light emitted by the two-dimensional display device is modulated by the optical microstructure, the light rays are incident to the human eye in a certain direction, and countless rays of light in the light field are propagated in this way, converging from all directions to reach the pupil of the human eye. Like the integral theorem in mathematics, these discrete, fine rays of light are integrated into a complete, continuous image.

In the past 10 years, there were also similar technologies that use the visual characteristics of the human eye for imaging display, such as 3D large screens, and 3D fans. There are also holographic techniques that use optical imaging that are different from refractive reflections and use interference and diffraction.

Figure 2

Let’s have a quick look at the differences of them.

Imaging technology Underlying principle Evaluation elements Other constraints
Imaging Media Image quality Device size Interact Directly
Floating 3D Display Light integration No High Medium Yes -
3D Fan Visual persistence Yes Low Medium N/A Poor mechanical rotational stability
Naked-eye 3D large screen Image occlusion and Optical illusion Yes Medium Huge N/A The set-up scale is very large, Need a specific angle, a specific distance to see
holographic display Interference and diffraction Yes Medium Large N/A The actual projection is behind the holographic film. True holographic imaging technology is still in the research in the world.

The Floating 3D Display technology has 3 technical routes.

One is to use the equivalent negative refraction technology route, the use of micron-level mirror array into an optical panel (micro mirror array plate, referred to as MMAP) to achieve light integration.

The second one is to use the technical route of inverse reflection (Aerial imaging by retro-reflection, referred to as AIRR), through the combination of inverse reflective film and beam splitter to achieve light integration.

The third one is a brand new technical route: light field display, through a multi-layer lens array to achieve light integration. With reference to the biological characteristics of the human eye, some start-up Companies, such as Chengdu Ji Shi Yuan, have independently developed Floating 3D Display solutions based on the original light field display technology route. It realizes the reflected light field of reconstructing real objects through multiple integrations of light rays, making people have an immersive visual experience.

Compared with the first and second negative refraction and reverse reflection technology routes, the 3rd technical route, light field display, has obvious advantages in image display. Includes higher brightness and clarity; No ghosting or artifacts; The image hovers farther from the screen.

Here is a briefing comparison table comprised of the 3 Floating 3D Display technical routes mentioned above.

Classify Evaluation elements Leading company
Equipment Angle of view Ghost image Brightness View angle Imaging position
MMAP micro mirror array plate Overlook Severe
Low 45° Close to equipment Asukanet
AIRR Inverse reflective film and beamsplitter Overlook Severe
Low 45° Close to equipment NCI
★ Light field display Projection box Smooth inspect No Ghost image High 45° Relatively far away Chengdu Ji Shi Yuan

The light field display may be realized by a projector composed of assembled components. Including internal optics, playback equipment, as well as external chassis, screens, etc. The viewer stands at a certain distance across the screen and can watch an beautiful 3D image floating at a certain distance in front of the screen.

Figure 3

3. Possible business utilization

Floating 3D Display technology can be widely used in medical, educational, entertainment and other fields.

In the context of epidemic prevention, a series of touchless interactive products can be launched, such as touchless settlement systems in hospitals and supermarkets, such as touchless elevators in buildings.

The Floating 3D Display technology is better in the naked-eye 3D application and Games, so it is more suitable for expansion in the relevant scenes of the Metaverse.

Figure 4

The Floating 3D Display makes 3D images easier to see and increases resolution, making the Metaverse and Game more realistic and impactful. It also reduces the symptoms of VR sickness caused by VR equipment.

NTT DATA would like to explore and improve The Floating 3D Display technology so that people can enjoy the beautiful Metaverse with less stress on the body and eyes.

This is an initiative of the Innovation Center, Research and Development Headquarters.