Sony recently unveiled Spatial Reality Display, a 15.6-inch 4K panel that includes both eye-tracking and embedded lenticular lens array so users can view 3D content with the naked eye.

In contrast to the $3,000 Looking Glass Holographic Monitor, which is decidedly much chunkier due to its optical array and light field rendering tech, Sony’s Spatial Reality Display is attacking the problem of 3D viewing from a different angle.

Somewhat like the glasses-free 3D TVs that made big news in the early 2010s, Spatial Reality Display lets you see rendered 3D content (and presumably also light fields) without needing any special glasses or VR headset. Priced at $5,000 and only capable of serving up 3D content to one person at a time though, Sony is targeting its new display at fields such as product design, 3D art, and other enterprise use cases.

On the company’s website, Sony says it serves up a 3D image by way of a single high-speed sensor that follows eye movement and the head’s position as it moves to readjust to naturally ‘look around’ the virtual objects being displayed.

A micro optical lens is layered on top of a 15.6-inch, 4K LCD display, which divides the image into the left and right eyes allowing for stereoscopic viewing. The company says its algorithm provides for real-time processing of content, allowing 3D images to “appear as smooth as in real life, even if you move around.”

Sony Reportedly Pauses PSVR 2 Production Due to Low Sales

Sean Hollister of The Verge got a chance to go hands-on with the device, saying that although initially impressive, the device’s 3D illusion was admittedly “easy to break.”

You’re looking into a virtual diorama roughly 13” by 6” by 5” by my estimates, and any virtual objects deeper or taller than that will simply get cut off by the edges of the display. If you lean in too close or too far to any side, Sony’s camera can’t track you and the 3D effect can twitch and disappear. The image also twitched when my wife tried to get a glimpse alongside me. Sony says it’s designed for one viewer at a time.

Sony says direct sales will open to the general public in November, and that it’s already seeded the device across companies such as Volkswagen, Ghostbusters studio Ghost Corps, and “one of the largest architectural firms in the world,” Sony tells The Verge.

The company is also providing compatibility with Unity and Unreal Engine 4, making it easier to export 3D content using its own SDK. In the meantime, you can sign up here for a virtual webinar demo of the device.

Newsletter graphic

This article may contain affiliate links. If you click an affiliate link and buy a product we may receive a small commission which helps support the publication. More information.

Well before the first modern XR products hit the market, Scott recognized the potential of the technology and set out to understand and document its growth. He has been professionally reporting on the space for nearly a decade as Editor at Road to VR, authoring more than 3,500 articles on the topic. Scott brings that seasoned insight to his reporting from major industry events across the globe.
  • R3ST4RT

    I mean, yeah, it’s cool, but tbh that guy with the wii did this same kind of tracking/screen shifting multiple years ago.

    • James Cobalt

      I think that was over a decade ago now. What this does differently is it combines that premise with glasses-free 3D. The project you are referring to could give a bit of a 3D effect by making the perspective match your viewing angle, but it was still a flat image.

  • Ad

    This is more expensive and worse than the holographic display, and doesn’t sound like it even includes the leap motion. What is Sony doing?

    • Been asking that for the last 20 years.

      If it wasn’t for Nintendo handing them the video game industry in the late 90’s, when they backed out the deal to make a CD based Nintendo game system and decided to just go it alone, Sony would have been toast ages ago!

  • starchaser28

    It’s hard to get excited about this type of tech these days. VR/AR has ruined us all. I’d rather see Sony investment further into competing with HP and high-end desktop or even mobile VR & AR space.

    • Andrew Jakobs

      This is a completely different department, and it’s certainly exciting devices for many designers as it doesn’t require a cumbersome headset/glasses.. Maybe it’s not interesting to you, but for designers it’s VERY interesting..

  • Meh. Nothing to do with VR. Post cool VR stuff like Blaston which took you a week or:
    And so much more cool stuff that gets out there daily, these are just recent examples and like Blaston and Phasmophobia which took you a while to notice the Vertigo Remastered dlc and JoyWay’s (Stride developers) Time Hacker are already released.

  • Gamer1st1

    So an expensive 3DS…

  • sfmike


    • Andrew Jakobs

      To you maybe, but not to a lot of designers..

      • duked

        Maybe not useless now, but will be, even for designers, if the future is AR.

        • Andrew Jakobs

          oh dear, so what you actually mean is we’ve wasted all our money on those dumb stupid cellphones because we’ve got smartphones now.. Or our grandparents wasted all their money on radio’s because we’ve got tv’s now…….. Why spend money on a VR headset, because in the near future we’ll just lay in a chair and have a device which directly injects all the images/sensations into our brain..
          Until AR is projected directly onto our eyeballs without having to wear glasses, displays like these are still prefered for a lot of people who don’t like to wear glasses all day while they work, and yes a lot of people are already wearing glasses anyway, but also a lot of people complain about having to wear them….

          • duked

            Yes, just like some people prefer pen and paper, as opposed to computers and cell phones, some will actually prefer 3D screens.

  • So… it’s a 3DS… without the 3DS…

  • There are better and cheaper glasses-free 3D displays already available, and more upcoming next months:

  • A bigger and more expensive Nintendo 3DS :D

    • James Cobalt

      Basically. The last stereoscopic 3DS did a similar thing, but the super basic “eye tracking” was used to help keep the 3D effect aligned with the lenticular lens based on your position rather than also moving the in-game camera to reflect your angle.

  • This is much like Johnny Lee’s 3D tracking system using the Wii, back in 2007.

    It’s creeping up on the Smartphone AR system I guessed a few months back. If you can track the user’s eyes and pare that up with a perspective corrected fraction of a wide angle imagine captured by a camera on the back, you could look THROUGH the phone and see AR stuff. You don’t really need a stereoscopic display if the object is over 10 feet away, as human vision has difficulty detecting 3D images past that distance.

  • leseki9

    To keep it simple this is a Nintendo 3DS display tech + head tracking.

    It’s a pity such a display hasn’t become a common thing in the professional field. 3D CAD, 3D modelling and 3D sculpting would be a lot more productive with such a display, at least until retinal resolution VR headsets became the norm.

    It’s good Sony is advertising this but hopefully it’s not another idea that will be dropped later like their cylindrical volumetric display from 10 years ago: