Toshiba Reportedly on Pace to Launch First Glasses-Free 3D TV

It's hard to get your game on when, on your first date, you promise a home cooked meal followed by a viewing of Avatar in full 3D splendor. It's not that you can't cook -- if that's the case, order take-out before she gets there and pop it in the oven -- but there's just no way to look pimp wearing a pair of 3D glasses. No matter how you slice it, donning a pair of dorky 3D specs is an inconvenience in more ways than one and is one of the biggest barriers in bringing 3D into the mainstream.

Enter Toshiba, which according to reports has put itself in position to deliver the world's first 3D television set that comes to life without any goofing looking head gear. As the Web chatter goes, Toshiba has no less than three new glasses-free 3D TVs on tap for the holiday shopping season (albeit most likely only in Japan), each one costing several thousand dollars.

So how did they develop a 3D TV that doesn't require active shutter or stereoscopic glasses? Toshiba came up with a new system that emits a bunch of rays of light that shoot out at different angles from the screen, each one hitting the viewer's eyeballs at slightly different times. The result is you're still seeing stereoscopic images, only without the aid of any special lenses.

Sounds pretty rad, but this isn't all new territory. Both Hitachi and Sharp are said to be producing parallax barrier LCD screens for Nintendo's upcoming 3DS handheld console. Parallax barrier displays work their 3D mojo by directing beams of light to each eye, and when they come together, a 3D image is formed. Toshiba so far isn't willing to discuss its upcoming glasses-free 3D TVs, but we imagine whatever proprietary technology is taking place under the hood has to be very similar to what Sharp and Hitachi are doing.

Of course, there's a downside to all this. In addition to high costs, glasses-free 3D displays typically require strict viewing angles. If you're not sitting in the so-called sweet-spot or have a tendency to bounce around in your chair, the 3D effect could become lost or turn blurry. And if Toshiba implements some sort of head tracking technology, like what Microsoft has been working on, there would be a limit to the number of viewers who could enjoy the 3D effects at any given time.