HERE'S LOOKING AT YOU: This autostereoscopic display shows a 3-D image with the help of a parallax barrier (in front of screen) and two infrared cameras (on either side) that track the user's eyes. The device was conceived at the Media Research Laboratory at New York University. Image: NEW YORK UNIVERSITY CENTER FOR ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY
Nearly 20 years ago I had the dubious honor of viewing Jaws 3-D, one of the sequels to the infamous shark-attack movie. With my theater ticket I received a pair of cardboard 3-D glasses, with red cellophane in one lens and blue in the other. Feeling very stupid, I sat in the front row and donned the glasses only when the lights went down. I remember absolutely nothing about the movie's plot, but I recall with great clarity some of the 3-D effects. The opening sequence featured a severed fish head, which seemed to be floating gruesomely just inches from my face. I was still young enough at the time to think that this was pretty cool.
Fast-forward to 2002. I'm sitting in a darkened room at the Media Research Laboratory at New York University, staring at a device called an autostereoscopic display. The setup looks very odd: a computer monitor lies on its side, and a sheet of liquid crystal--
This article was originally published with the title Getting Real.