Sony Patents 3DTV-Inspired Stereoscopic Screen Sharing

Jonathan Sutton

Sony Computer Entertainment has drawn upon the stereoscopic display technology similar to that used on 3D TVs to register a couple of interesting patents for a screen sharing invention which will allow separate images to be shown to different people on the same TV screen simultaneously, the leading patent searching database on the internet has revealed.

Current 3D TV sets based on alternate frame-sequencing work by using active shutter 3D glasses to deliver separate images to the left and right eyes, which are then fused by the brain to create the illusion of 3-dimensional depth. Taking a leaf out of this book, Sony obviously thought the same principles can be applied to show different images to more than one viewer on the very same display (again using shuttered glasses).

Towards this end, Sony Computer Entertainment has filed two patents titled “Stereoscopic Screen Sharing Method And Apparatus” and “3D Shutter Glasses With Mode Switching Based On Orientation To Display Device” on the 14th of July last year. These patents were disclosed to the public domain on one year on (i.e. last month), and were subsequently picked up by gaming and gadget websites.

Here’s how Sony’s stereoscopic screen-sharing invention would work according to the patents. Two discrete video signals would be fed to a common stereoscopic TV screen which would then alternately display the image from one video signal followed by the other. Viewers can choose to see one of the video signals by wearing the necessary shuttered glasses, and then selecting the correct synchronised mode which would blank out the video signal they do not want to see. Illustrations inside the filed patents also showed a pair of earbuds hanging from the arms of the glasses, hinting at the possibility of separate audio channels in conjunction with the video feeds.

Sony’s patents suggested a couple of potential uses for its innovative screen-sharing system. Besides the obvious one of allowing two people to watch different programmes on one television (for example one person can enjoy a Blu-ray movie while the other watches terrestrial digital TV), the invention can also prevent video game players who are sitting side-by-side from stealing glances at each other’s screen to gather crucial information, a practice which is rife and unavoidable in current split-screen gaming technology.