A range of stereoscopic display technologies exist which are no more intrusive, to the user, than a pair of spectacles. Combining such a display system with sensors for the position and orientation of the user's point-of-view results in a greatly enhanced depiction of three-dimensional data. As the point of view changes, the stereo display channels are updated in real time. The face of a monitor or display screen becomes a window on a three-dimensional scene. Motion parallax naturally conveys the placement and relative depth of objects in the field of view. Most of the advantages of "head-mounted display"
technology are achieved with a less cumbersome system. To derive the full benefits of stereo combined with motion parallax, both stereo channels must be updated in real time. This may limit the size and complexity of data bases which can be viewed on processors of modest resources, and restrict the use of additional three-dimensional cues, such as texture mapping, depth cueing, and hidden surface elimination.
Effective use of "full 3D" may still be undertaken in a non-interactive mode. Integral composite holograms have often been advanced as a powerful 3D visualization tool. Such a hologram is typically produced from a film recording of an object on a turntable, or a computer animation of an object rotating about one axis. The individual frames of film are multiplexed, in a composite hologram, in such a way as to be indexed by viewing angle. The composite may be produced as a cylinder transparency, which provides a stereo view of the object as if enclosed within the cylinder, which can be viewed from any angle. No vertical parallax is usually provided (this would require increasing the dimensionality of the multiplexing scheme),
but the three dimensional image is highly resolved and easy to view and interpret. Even a modest processor can duplicate the effect of such a precomputed display, provided sufficient memory and bus
bandwidth. This paper describes the components of a stereo display system with user point-of-view tracking for interactive 3D, and a digital realization of integral composite display which we term virtual integral holography. The primary drawbacks of holographic display - film processing turnaround time, and the difficulties of displaying scenes in full color -are obviated, and motion parallax cues provide easy 3D interpretation even for users who cannot see in stereo.
This paper was published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 1259
Extracting Meaning from Complex Data: Processing, Display, Interaction, Edward J. Farrell, Editors, pp.99-105