How Does the 3DS Work Without 3D Glasses?

Late on Monday night, Nintendo announced that it would unveil a new version of its handheld DS console at E3 in June. Dubbed the 3DS, Nintendo said the device would allow users to enjoy 3D games without the need for glasses. 48 hours later, and we've already got some rumors about the specifics of the device.

Engadget cites Asahi in Japan, which claims the 3DS achieves its glasses-free 3D effect by using a parallax barrier LCD from Sharp. These displays have been around for a few years but they're very dependent on what angle you look at the screen from. Though this shouldn't be a problem with a small LCD, like the ones you'd find on the DS, it's not too practical for the telly in your sitting room.

So how does a parallax LCD work? Most people know that when you're watching a 3D movie and wearing those dorky glasses, a different image is being sent to each eye; your brain mashes these two images together to create a composite 3D image. You may not know that a 3D display incorporates an overlay that is placed in front of the LCD. This is called a parallax barrier and it polarizes the glasses.

Sharp's parallax barrier is a little different for it is actually a 'switching LCD' that allows for both 2D and 3D imaging without the need for special glasses or goggles. When this switching LCD is switched off, the TFT-LCD displays 2D imaging as normal, but when the parallax barrier is switched on, it controls the way light leaves the display, meaning different patterns of light reach the left and right eye.

Other rumors suggest the device will pack a DualShock-esque vibration-feedback system and something called 3D control sticks, whatever they are.

Jane McEntegart works in marketing communications at Intel and was previously Manager of Content Marketing at ASUS North America. Before that, she worked for more than seven years at Tom's Guide and Tom's Hardware, holding such roles as Contributing Editor and Senior News Editor and writing about everything from smartphones to tablets and games consoles.