Three dimensions are better than two, at least that's what one development-stage technology company says will make its 3-D display system an asset to the medical imaging industry.

3Dlcon (Tulsa, Oklahoma) said it has completed a working prototype of its three-dimensional display system, CSpace. With CSpace, 3Dlcon's scientific team has created one-color volumetric 3-D images that can be viewed from any angle without viewing aids, according to the company. 3Dlcon also says its CSpace can project "virtually any object" in three dimensions, in an instant.

It is a "well-established fact," Vivek Bhaman, 3DIcon's president/COO told Medical Device Daily, that "3-D imaging is so much more effective than basic 2-D imaging."

MRIs are better than standard X-rays, for example, Bhaman said.

While the company believes its technology will be valuable to many industries, Bhaman said the Cspace will have a particular importance in the medical industry where 3-D imaging is used daily for things like CAT scans and MRI. But "the tragedy of the whole thing has been, so far, that all these applications have been displaying the files on 2-D screens. They create the file in 3-D format and have to dumb it down so it can be seen on a 2-D screen," he said. Bhaman said computer effects can make those images look three-dimensional, but in reality it is not 3-D.

"What we anticipate is going to happen is the very same files that have been created will now be able to be displayed on our displays in true 3-D format," Bhaman said.

According to 3Dlcon, the Cspace has achieved four significant breakthroughs in the history of 3-D displays. First, the system is the first 360-degree static volumetric 3-D display. Second, it is the first 3-D display that does not have mechanical/moving parts. Third, it is designed for scalability, making the technology suitable for a wide range of applications. Fourth, 3Dlcon says the Cspace offers "the highest resolution of any 3-D technology, capable of rendering up to eight times the voxels (800 million) compared to other volumetric 3-D technologies and resulting in an increase in resolution comparable to that of today's high-definition televisions versus the early tube televisions."

The Cspace system uses Texas Instruments' (Dallas) microchip DMD (Digital Micromirror Device) technology. The system is capable of creating 3-D images from "virtually any industry-standard 3-D visualization program," 3Dlcon said, including CAD programs, 3ds Max, and Google SketchUp. Cspace is also compatible with Sony's GLV technology, the company said, which can be used to create large format outdoor laser displays.

"The world is now one giant step closer to utilizing true 3-D displays in applications in essentially all spheres where two-dimensional displays have been the standard," Bhaman said.

3Dlcon says the CSpace uses a clear volumetric image space, which serves as a 3-D screen. The image space used in the prototype is a crystalline matrix with rare-earth up-conversion material, the company noted. A 3-D image is created when invisible laser beams are directed into the image space, exciting the up-conversion materials to create visible light and thus display a volumetric image, according to the company. The prototype displays a one-color green image in three dimensions.

"We stated that we would deliver a working prototype for rendering a 3-D image in a static volume space by the end of 2008. We have achieved this major breakthrough," said Martin Keating, the company's CEO/chairman. "We have begun talks with potential sub-licensing partners and hope to conclude licensing agreements."

The company says its next technology milestone is demonstrating scalability by increasing the image space to four times the current volume in the prototype. Other upcoming milestones include further improving CSpace's render rates to create moving images, as well as displaying additional colors, the company said.

"What makes CSpace widely adoptable is the fact that it is the first 360-degree volumetric technology that is non-mechanical," said Dr. Hakki Refai, 3Dlcon's chief technology officer and inventor of CSpace. "The first generation of TVs was mechanical and could never be commercialized. The wide adoption of television started only when the non-mechanical TV was invented. CSpace brings the same quantum leap to 3-D technology."

Creation of the CSpace 3-D display system is the result of a multi-disciplinary approach, which has included significant achievements in multiple fields including development of electronics, control systems, photonics and optical engineering.

Bhaman told MDD 3Dlcon is hopeful that the technology will be ready for commercialization "much faster" than it typically takes a new technology to reach the market, possibly within the next 12 to 18 months.