Avatar was a cinema juggernaut, catalyzing the integration of 3D technology into theaters and homes alike. However, the sequels director James Cameron has planned — the first of which will be released in 2020 — may take the technology to an entirely new level by utilizing a new RGB laser projection system designed by Christie Digital that would eliminate the need for viewers to wear glasses.
Two pieces of news fuel the speculation that Cameron is pursuing glasses-free 3D. The first comes directly from Cameron himself, who said as much during an acceptance speech in November: “I’m still very bullish on 3D, but we need brighter projection, and ultimately I think it can happen — with no glasses. We’ll get there.“ Then in March, his Lightstorm Entertainment production company renewed a five-year agreement with Christie Digital.
However, very few details regarding how the technology would work— other than the fact that Christie Digital’s projectors are capable of using 60,000 lumens to solve the problem of blur and distortion in high frame rates — have been announced.
Although systems already exist that are capable of rudimentary versions of glasses-less 3D, none have had the mainstream awareness that James Cameron’s backing would grant the technology — plenty of cinemas across the country only installed 3D systems after Avatar was released. If the technology is developed, it could change the screen-based visual entertainment industry fundamentally.
Although 3D technology has its share of issues, the biggest is arguably the glasses, which many people find uncomfortable, impractical, and too expensive. If a glasses-less 3D system comes to fruition, it might result in wider adoption of 3D technology.
As what Cameron is proposing is effectively a screen-produced hologram, this technology could also have uses far beyond the theater. Gamers could use it as an alternative to virtual reality (VR), which is often criticized for its cumbersome headsets, architects could use it to show their plans to clients, and shoppers could see 3D versions of the items they’re thinking of buying online.
Regardless of whether the tech is ready in time for Avatar 2, it’s poised to have a major impact on the viewing experiences of the future.