Volumetric 3D Television Is Here!

Volumetric 3D displays that allow the viewing of full 3D images without special glasses are not unknown in our community, usually taking the form of either a 3D LED matrix or a spinning rotor either with an image projected onto it or holding an LED array. They are impressive projects, but they are often limited in what they can display. Pretty patterns and simple 3D models are all very well, but they are hardly 3D television. Thus we’re quite impressed with [Evlmnkey]’s bachelor’s degree project, which combines motion capture and a volumetric display for a genuine volumetric 3D closed-circuit television system.

Finding the details takes a bit of dredging through the Reddit thread, but the display is an off-the-shelf Adafruit single-sided LED matrix driven by an ESP32, all mounted on a motor with a pair of slip rings for power. Data is fed to the ESP via WiFi, with the PC responsible for grabbing the image sending it as uncompressed frames. There’s little detail on the 3D capture, but since he mentions a Kinect library we suspect that may be the source.

This is perhaps not the highest resolution TV you’ll ever have seen, indeed we’d liken it to the flickering 30 lines of 1930s mechanical TV, but it’s still a functioning volumetric 3D live CCTV system. If you’re interested by 3D displays, you might like to see our examination of the subject.

Thanks [nandkeypull] for the tip.

18 thoughts on “Volumetric 3D Television Is Here!

    1. TFT panel’s refresh rate will be a limiting factor. Even the fancies gaming screen panels are capable of 360Hz max (vs this project’s 2000Hz).
      Displaying an 3d picture at mere 10fps would leave you with only 36 frames / rotation, or 10 degrees per 3rd axis’s “pixel” which at only 2 cm from the center of rotation would be 3.5mm wide.

      1. I have vague memories of a description of a circular phosphor screen being held upright and spun to sweep a spherical volume within an evacuated dome whilst being drawn on by CRT guns: 3D Tektronix-like line drawing and a low-res (but back then even 2D was low-res by current standards) 3D scan-line TV. Mono only, for obvious reasons. Circa 1966?

        No idea what is was called or who is as trying it: hope it wasn’t just a fever dream.

        And before anyone asks, the entire mechanical assembly was inside the glass vessel so only wiring needed to be brought outside!

  1. Nice project!
    Here is a volumetric display project from BYTE May 1978 that uses a rotating oblique mirror and an oscilloscope reflecting on that to generate the image:
    “GRAPHICS IN DEPTH: 3-D Adds a New Dimension to Your Display”

    Your one appears to have the benefit of a greater viewing angle by not having the projecting device get in the way of the viewer.

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