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Are modern light-field / lenticular glasses free 3D hologram displays really radical innovation?

Are modern light-field / lenticular glasses free 3D desktop hologram displays really a radical innovation? In this post we see some historical context to get the whole picture. Mid 19th century saw a massive interest in stereoscopic photography and stereoscopic devices that would be used to view the images with stereoscopic depth. France and Paris based inventors were leading in this area in the 1850s and early 1900s. 



1852 stereoscope France

1852 stereoscope France


At the same time there was a massive interest in glasses free autostereoscopic 3D photographs that were realized with glass based techniques and later with lenticular lens principles invention and also this technology saw massive interest and many trying various innovative approaches to create a sense of depth on real life photographs without using stereoscopes to view by the naked eyes in early 1900s. The ocular vision of insects lead to light-field type of lens creation to capture how insects see the world and patents were filed ( Oculas VR in modern times must get name from that inspiration). All these techniques create illusion of depth.


Many patents were filed in these times including in 3d cameras / special lenses / display devices / stereoscopic viewing / animation techniques / auto-stereoscopy / lenticular lenses, materials and manufacturing. Commercialization also happened for mass audiences for fun / entertainment/ for businesses for signage for marketing. 


Almost all the current 3D viewing techniques both head mounted and glasses free, see their roots in these century old techniques (early 20th century) that now are adapted to use modern methods and advancements of the technology such as display screens to improve the fundamentals that were established in as earlier as the 19th century.


French innovators / artists / researchers were leading in a lot of innovations in this area that later spread around the world including the USA.


 It's like the 1920s is repeating itself around 100 years later in current world with frenzy in AR/VR with new modern tech in terms of processors / sensors / advanced optics displays and may be it will again repeat itself in 2120 again later after 100 more years. History always repeats itself, only people of current generations fail to realize that due to ignorance and loss of records.



3D camera from Maurice Bonnet

3D camera from Sicper

These are two auto-stereoscopic 3D cameras that were custom built by two separate French photographers from two separate studios based in Paris in earlier 1900s, that used special mechanisms to expose negative film at different angles with different sides using lenticular screens exposing only small sides of the negatives. So it can show 3D viewing effect when printed with a lenticular screen on top for glasses free 3D experience. 


The first photo is from O.P.22 camera by Maurice Bonnet from La Relièphographie studio in Paris, which at one point cost as high as 850k Francs while the second one is Sicper camera that cost around 100k Francs. These cameras and all the technologies were built inhouse by these innovators.


Maurice Bonnet was the lead inventor / photographer, who had a studio in Paris La Relièphographie, where his famous O.P.22 camera was used to take 3D portraits to create special unique memories for customers and was operational for 17 years before it went bankrupt in 1947 after conflict between its two founders. Maurice was like a celebrity in those days and one of the pioneers in related technology innovations in the world. The studio created lots of business with 3D photography, although it was quite expensive, but customers loved the unique experience. 


At its peak his studio employed around 20 people many in its research division to keep on churning new innovations in 3D photography, lenticular screen, lenticular prints, etc and held many patents. Bonnet also had licensed the technology to many studios from around the world including in USA and Europe and Japan. 


After 1961 when the patents expired after 20 years, many used these to build further advancements on 3D technologies including lenticular autostereoscopic related innovations, many of which we see even in today's glass free 3D screens which are auto-stereoscopic showing illusion of depth. 


The cheap museum cards that show different angles when tilted to show 3D that we see everywhere today, also were first based on these innovations further in 1960s as commercialization happened. 


Click on photos to zoom on the photos. 


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