Toward a new horizon
With the Spatial Reality Display ELF-SR1, you can experience 3D spatial images as if the content exists right in front of you—
all with the naked eye. In this project, Sony designers sought to further enhance the potential of this truly innovative imaging technology
that is nothing like other existing 3D displays. A whole new visual experience created with an eye to the future will transform
a wide range of creative fields, from gaming and computer graphics to architecture and industrial design.
Designing the potential
The project to develop the Spatial Reality Display started from a simple wish: to bring together the best of Sony technologies and create a whole new 3D visual expression for the world. To this end, Sony's researchers set out to realize ultra-high resolution 3D CG images that can be seen with the naked eye, without using special glasses or headsets, by harnessing Sony’s advanced technologies such as a proprietary high-speed vision sensor and eye-sensing technology. The project team succeeded in creating stereoscopic spatial images that smoothly follow changes in the viewing angle by constantly sensing the position of the viewer's eyes and generating optimal images for each eye in real time.
When the designers who participated in the project to help develop the product first saw the images on a prototype, they immediately realized the limitless potential of those 3D images that had unprecedented depth and a sense of being there, right before their eyes. The designers thought the technology would find many applications in addition to video production, such as the work of architects and product designers who use scale models, in-store promotions, and signage at exhibitions. They visualized the potential value of 3D images by first presenting a wide range of use cases to the project members. Then based on those use cases, the team worked to develop product and communication designs to further expand the potential of this display.
A product that sparks
To broaden the potential of the display, the designers thought it would be necessary to translate the technology into a more freely usable form with the power of design, thereby forging a product that sparks the creativity of creators who use it and inspires new ideas. In addition to the design conditions presented by the engineers, such as a display tilt angle fixed at 45 degrees and effective placement of a vision sensor, the designers envisioned numerous use cases including the production work of creators in diverse fields and exhibitions at various places, which led to a design concept called a "Triangle Frame." This concept comprises the following three features that offer an optimal solution to all sorts of issues.
The first is "precision." An extruded aluminum material was machined to create an isosceles right triangle frame structure that provides a high dimensional precision required of a display and sensor placed at an angle. The second is "durability." By housing all device components inside the triangle frame and making the frame itself a solid structure, the product ensures sufficient durability to withstand usage in a wide range of production settings. The third is "iconic." The product’s form, which sublimates all requirements into functions, symbolically represents an unprecedented, truly realistic 3D visual experience. In addition, the openings provided on both sides of the frame, as well as in the back and bottom, allow cables to go out in any direction so that the product can be mounted on the wall or built into fixtures at exhibitions and stores to meet various applications.
Leaving only images
before the eyes
The designers also focused on enhancing the immersive experience of the 3D images. The display is equipped with 2.1 channel speakers that deliver sound from the openings on both sides and from the front bottom, creating a Sound-from-Picture Reality experience that envelops the user. At the same time, to minimize visual noise that interferes with the viewing experience, control buttons were placed along the top of the display where they are not visible from the viewing position, and the brightness and color of the black glass frame that covers the screen were adjusted so that they blend naturally with the background of the content. Moreover, the aluminum frame was blasted for a matte finish to reduce the reflection of lighting. Thanks to such meticulous attention to detail, users are able to focus only on the images.
Seeking the ideal, with eyes set on the future
One of Sony's goals is "Helping creators realize their dreams," and that is exactly what the Spatial Reality Display embodies. This display not just enables a new visual expression; it has the power to change work styles themselves, for example, by allowing product designers to check even fine textures with its 3D images, eliminating the need to create mockups, and share the images with remote collaborators. We searched for the ideal form for this display from such perspectives, so that it can contribute to creative activities in various fields.
Communicating the wonders of
a new visual experience
How can we communicate to people the potential that this display offers? Here is what the designer proposed to the project members: create inspiring content for demonstration that stimulates the creativity of creators in various fields and gets them thinking how they would use the display, instead of simply explaining the functions. Our idea of a screen is "a stage for the content." With this thought, we started creating original content that helps communicate the characteristics of this display in practical and attractive ways to creators.
For example, we created a 3D image of an elaborate watch as content targeting product designers. The overwhelming reality of the image shows how it can be used to check even the smallest details, such as fine textures and reflection of light, and how it can boost efficiency and productivity in product development. We also created content inspired by science fiction movies in collaboration with a Hollywood film production company. It depicts flying cars in a near-future world and scenes with unprecedented reality, presenting a new vision for 3D CG visual expression.
The content the designer particularly focused on was a 3D animation created by drawing storyboards herself. It is a short animation depicting a boy and a cat, and the whole story takes place in a kitchen. It contains various gimmicks that make use of eye-sensing technology. For example, a cat hiding in a trash can comes into view when the viewer looks at the display from a different angle. There is a new discovery every time the content is viewed, and it helps creators come up with ideas for new visual expression.
Quest for more
With an eye to commercialization, we also honed user communication. The logo serving as a core brand element is based on an isosceles triangle representing the Triangle Frame. It is a concave graphic that gives a sense of depth, which is one of the characteristics of the Spatial Reality Display, instead of a convex cube often used for 3D-related logos. The motion logo was created along the storyline that a spotlight is cast and a new stage appears, based on the idea that "a screen is a stage for the content."
The most challenging aspect of the communication design for this project was how to communicate the wonders of 3D images with 2D materials such as web catalogs. The designer decided that the product’s potential can be more effectively communicated by having creators in various fields experience the Spatial Reality Display and sharing their candid reactions, rather than showing simulated images. Accordingly, we produced three promotion videos featuring architects, CG creators, and product designers, respectively, and made them available for viewing on our web catalog. Through their raw voices, we provided more practical information on how production sites can change, and what kind of visual expression it will enable.
Creating a new visual culture
Our goal was to create a new visual culture. Creators drawn to the Spatial Reality Display create new visual works, and creators who saw those works in turn create other visual works. If emotional experiences that we didn’t even imagine are created through such chain of events, nothing will give us greater joy.
The Spatial Reality Display expands the possibilities of visual expression in various scenes.
At the Sony Creative Center, we will continue to translate technology with the power of design
and help creators realize their dreams.