3-dimensional image apparatus based on polarizing method

Computer graphics processing and selective visual display system – Single display system having stacked superimposed display... – Three-dimensional arrays

Reexamination Certificate

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Details

C345S007000, C345S008000, C345S630000, C345S467000

Reexamination Certificate

active

06522310

ABSTRACT:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
1. Field of the Invention
The present invention relates to the field of stereoscopic television and computer graphics processing, and in particular to the use of polarization to separate the left eye and right eye images.
2. Description of the Related Art
Recently, as image display techniques have advanced, the need for a 3-dimensional image viewing apparatus to aid in processing a large amount of information, thereby maximizing a visual effect, has increased. There has been rapid development of these techniques. Other applications include 3-dimensional simulation, games, advertising, and virtual reality which are implemented using an image which is artificially generated by a computer in the current image processing technique, for thereby experiencing a virtual world which does not actually exist.
The above-described 3-dimensional image is implemented using a difference in the views of the left and right eyes for generating a viewing depth of an object based on human eyes. A 3-dimensional image apparatus based on a polarizing method is implemented by the above-described principle. In this method, the left and right images displayed by a polarizing filter are transferred to the left and right eyes through another polarizing filter such as a polarizing glass having the same polarizing angle.
One example of a 3-dimensional image apparatus based on the conventional polarizing method is designed for a medical application. A natural 3-dimensional image is displayed, so that a doctor can perform an accurate and stable operation such as an endoscope operation, a special operation, etc. The 3-dimensional image apparatus based on a conventional polarizing method includes a stereo camera unit in which two cameras picture an object using left and right eyes at different angles, a 3-dimensional image display unit for polarizing the left and right images pictured by the stereo camera unit in one direction so as to have a 90° phase difference and passing and reflecting the same in one direction using a half reflection mirror, a phase converting mirror for inverting the left and right sides of the 3-dimensional image outputted from the left eye camera of the stereo camera unit, an image storing unit for storing the left and right eye images pictured by the stereo camera unit into a predetermined medium in accordance with an externally inputted instruction or outputting the images stored therein, and polarizing glasses formed of polarizing lenses having a 90° phase difference, so that the left eye image polarized by the 3-dimensional display unit is transferred to the left eye of the viewer, and the right image is transferred to the right eye of the viewer.
The stereo camera unit is generally formed of CCD cameras. Namely, there are provided a right eye CCD camera and left eye CCD camera which are integrated and correspond to the right eye and the left eye, respectively. In addition, the 3-dimensional display unit includes a right eye CRT monitor for receiving a right eye image pictured by the right eye CCD camera of the stereo camera unit and displaying the same on the screen, a right eye polarizing plate for polarizing the image displayed by the right eye CRT monitor in a predetermined direction, a left eye CRT monitor mounted at a portion perpendicular to the right eye CRT monitor for displaying the left eye image pictured by the left eye CCD camera on the screen, a left eye polarizing plate mounted at a portion perpendicular to the right eye polarizing plate for displaying the image displayed by the left eye CRT monitor so as to have a predetermined 90° phase difference with the image polarized by the right eye polarizing plate, and a half reflection mirror for reflecting 50% of the image polarized by the right eye polarizing plate and the left eye polarizing plate in the direction reverse to the direction of the left eye polarizing plate and the right eye polarizing plate and passing the remaining 50% of the light without deflection. The image storing unit which operates in accordance with an external instruction includes a VCR for storing a left eye and right eye image pictured by the stereo camera and outputting the stored image to the 3-dimensional image display unit through the image converting mirror, an input interface unit for performing a signal interface between the stereo camera unit and the VCR, and an output interface unit for performing a signal interface between the VCR and the 3-dimensional image display unit.
The operation of the 3-dimensional image apparatus based on the conventional polarizing method will be explained. First, the right eye CCD camera and the left eye CCD camera correspond to two eyes of a human body and are spaced apart by about 65-75 mm, and the right eye and left eye images are pictured and then are transferred to the right eye CRT monitor and the left eye CRT monitor. At this time, since the right eye polarizing plate and the left eye polarizing plate are perpendicularly disposed on the front surface of the right eye CRT monitor and the left eye CRT monitor, the images outputted have a phase difference of 90°. The half reflection mirror reflects 50% of the incident light, and passes the remaining 50% of the light. Therefore, an observer using polarizing glasses views the right eye image outputted from the right eye CRT monitor through the half reflection mirror through the right polarizing plate, and views the left eye image outputted from the left eye CRT monitor which passes through the left eye polarizing plate and is reflected by the half reflection mirror, so that the right eye image is transferred to the right eye, and the left eye image is transferred to the left eye.
Here, since the left eye image outputted from the left eye CRT monitor is reflected by the half reflection mirror, the left and right side images are inverted. In order to normally view the images, in this case, an image conversion mirror is used for inverting the left and right sides of the images outputted from the left eye camera of the stereo camera unit.
In addition, the image storing unit stores the left eye and right eye images in the VCR in accordance with an external instruction and outputs the stored images in accordance with an external instruction. However, in the 3-dimensional image apparatus based on a conventional polarizing method, only one observer can view the 3-dimensional image. For example, when performing an endoscopy operation, a main doctor performs the operation while viewing the portions to be treated, and an assistant doctor assists in the operation while viewing the portion to be treated using another set of the 3-dimensional image apparatus based on the conventional polarizing method. Therefore, the volume and weight of the 3-dimensional image unit using the CRT is increased, so that more space is needed, and the fabrication cost of the system is increased.
In addition, since the left and right images are mixed by 50% and then are outputted using the half reflection mirror, the quality of the image is decreased compared to the original images pictured. This may cause an error in the operation.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
It is therefore an object of the present invention to provide an improved 3-dimensional image apparatus.
It is a further object of the present invention to provide a 3-dimensional image apparatus which can be viewed by more than one observer.
It is a yet further object of the invention to provide a 3-dimensional image apparatus which has improved image quality.
It is a still further object of the invention to provide a 3-dimensional image apparatus which fully utilizes the output light.
It is a still-yet further object of the present invention to provide a 3-dimensional image apparatus having reduced size and weight.
In order to achieve the above objects, the present invention provides a 3-dimensional image apparatus based on a polarizing method which is capable of preventing image loss by viewing the 3-dimensional image in two directions and which significantly decreases volume and weight of the system compa

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