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The 3D Ring




Imagine giving a computer user ergonomic control within 3D volumetric workspace right from the keyboard. This simulation illustrates the concept for a new dimension in operating systems. Files inside of folders are pulled out of drawers. The flat cluttered space of the desktop becomes a manageable office space.

The 3D Ring is a key that opens the door to this 3D workspace.




Operating systems that exploit 3D have an extra dimension to exploit when presenting content. Objects hidden in 2D "flat land" jump out for selection in 3D. The 3D Ring passes cursor control to the index finger and selection to the tactile pressure of the thumb against the ring. The ergonomic advantages are obvious. Cursor moves and click-on selections do not require relocating the hand away from the keyboard.




While the 3D Ring revolutionizes graphical user interfaces, its constiuent parts cost no more than a conventional 2D mouse. The components shown here are the ring, a battery, a white LED, a linear array camera like those used in flatbed scanners, and an embossed plastic grating.

The plastic grating is virtually free, and that's the part we patented.




Because we use diffraction gratings rather than refractive lenses, the familiar effect of perspective is reversed. Rather than becoming smaller with distance, the diffraction images grow in size. When more data is available for sampling, 3D resolution does not decrease with distance; it increases.




Our eyes and all other stereo systems have blind areas in the near- and far-fields where fields-of-view do not overlap.

The single camera in the 3D Ring sees everything in front of its diffraction grating. The package is folded, because diffraction is an off-axis phenomenon. As a result the apparatus occupies a thin package and can be mounted on thin devices.



A stereo pair is made with two cameras. If either view of a stereo pair is blocked, the third dimension is occluded.


The Ring uses a single camera to gather 3D information. A spectrum represents thousands of views, one for each distinct color in the spectrum. The Ring's hologram sees a separate view with each color, and if one part of the field is blocked, there are alternative views that can overcome the occlusions. Averaging the many alternative views results in a higher resolving power than two views as with stereo cameras.




A smart 3D Ring can transmit codes that identify it and establish the identity of the wearer.




The grazing angle gives us many options in designing the form factor of a 3D Ring - from a handheld, to a tablet, notebook, laptop, in a monitor bezel, on a tabletop. In an entertainment center, or filling a classroom, conference room, or theatre, the LED ring can communicate not only position but the identity of the participant using two-way smart lighting protocols.