Toshiba said it had found a way for a flat screen to show 3-D images, opening up the prospect of arcade games, next-generation TVs and even restaurant menus that can zoom out at a viewer even without the use of 3-D glasses.
The Japanese electronics giant said it had improved on standard 3-D technology -- which uses specially shaped screens that must be watched from a fixed point -- by using microlenses that control light emission and special software.
Toshiba demonstrated the invention by showing a flat screen which appeared to have bottles and cans sticking out several centimeters (inches) in the air.
The company set a goal of first using the technology in 2006 in arcade games.
By 2007, Toshiba hopes to be able to develop 3-D menus -- which would come in handy in Japan, where restaurants often show pictures of what's on offer.
Toshiba plans to use the 3-D screens in home video games in 2008 and bring the technology into portable games a year later. By 2010, it wants to use the invention for a next-generation 3-D televison.
"Mainstream 3-D technology is limited in terms of the viewing angle at which it can display 3-D images and the images are also tiring to view," a Toshiba statement said.
"Toshiba's new displays employ an integral imaging system that reproduces light beams similar to those produced by a real object, not its visual representation. This overcomes the main problem with a flatbed display: distance," it said.
The software which supports the effect uses 10 or more images of the same object, which can be put to use to develop broader angles. The 3-D effect works for viewers 30 centimeters (12 inches) or more away.