Last month during SID 2010, Toshiba Corp introduced a prototype 12-inch LCD that could display 2D and 3D images simultaneously. Toshiba is one of many manufacturers looking for ways to provide 3D content without forcing the end-user to wear special glasses to achieve the effect. Unfortunately, Toshiba's solution could be costly, as its current prototype actually incorporates two LCD screens.
Toshiba said that it has developed an "integral imagine method" that provided nine viewpoints. The panel displays 3D images by using Toshiba's "GRIN (gradient index)" lens that serves as an overlay. This lens--mounted on a separate LCD panel--changes the distribution of refraction indexes by controlling the gradient (orientation) of liquid crystal molecules.
A second LCD panel, sitting behind the first screen with the GRIN lens, serves as the primary source of 2D images. When the GRIN lens is turned off, the refraction index doesn't change, allowing light to pass normally. however when the GRIN lens is turned on, liquid crystal molecules align themselves in a radial pattern. These patters are formed in parallel with electrodes that are vertically aligned, creating stripes--this effect is what creates the 3D illusion.
According to Toshiba, it's possible to show both 2D and 3D images at the same time. This is made possible by partially turning on the GRIN lens screen. But as it stands, Toshiba has already thrown in a third LCD screen that can change the polarization of light by 90-degrees between the two panels. This allows the user to switch between 2D and 3D father quickly.
As with all prototypes, there's no guarantee that we'll ever see this product in stores.