Giving Snapshots Extra Dimension Without 3 D Glasses

You can finally toss eut those funky 3-D glasses. Using digital technology, researchers at Eastman Kodak Co. in Rochester, N.Y., have found a way to combine multiple photographic images into a single 3-D picture. In the resulting images, objects appear to protrude or recede from a primary point of focus, thus providing a viewer with changing perspectives from different viewing angles.

To create a single 3-D picture, the new process combines up to 24 different exposures taken with a standard 35mm camera mounted on a track. Once the film is developed, these images are scanned into a computer. There, proprietary software is used to rearrange individual pixels to form a single image. The final product can be printed as either a transparency or a print. A thin, transparent optical material is laminated over the picture to "focus" the image. The result is a 3-D photo that gives the illusion of depth without special glasses.

Kodak is still evaluating the commercial potential for this so-called depth-imaging process, which will surely cost more than standard film processing. Commercial applications might include everything from point-of-sale displays to portraits.

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