Siggraph 2010 : The Sony cylindrical display

The unique display technology from Sony is very popular, here. I was surprised to see that it also featured interactive, real time content.

How to describe it? First imagine a cylinder a little bigger than a foldgers coffee can. Now imagine that you can view it from any side, 360 degrees around. Now imagine that the content is unique from each
vantage, so you can “walk around” an item being displayed to view it from any angle. Still with me?

It is not a volumetric display like I was expecting, but since each view around is a unique vantage, it is autostereoscopic, giving the illusion of a 3d object inside the cylinder. The resolution isn’t great, but it is stil fascinating.

As I was investigating how it worked, I got the familiar “Sir… Sir!!” as I reached out to touch the device (guess they didn’t want me to do that). But upon touching it, the inner workings of the display were immediatly revealed. I could feel that inside was something spinning very fast. Probably more than 1000 rpm. This is likely a small and very fast led display which is blinking each of the views as
it spins around. This must incorporate a fluid (liquid metal) slip ring for transmitting signal and power.

My favorite demo they had was a simple game of pong.. But with a twist. The bricks are arranged in a cylinder towards the top of the display and the paddle that you control runs in a continuous circle around the base of the cylinder. This means the play surface is continuous and seamless all the way around the cylinder. As you are playing you can of course physically move around the display to gain a better vantage of the game.

Anyways, it is a very engaging experience and I can think of many applications that would be fun to create.

Will follow up with an investigation of how to provide the display with real time content.

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