Apple has been granted a US patent for a 3D display system which will allow viewers to see 3D images on the screen without a need for special glasses, no matter where they are sitting.

Currently most 3D display systems need viewers to wear special glasses, which, according to Apple, is an obstacle to widespread acceptance of 3D viewing as many users do not like having to wear them. In addition, it makes the viewing of 3D images impossible for casual passersby.

The patent granted to Apple is for an auto-stereoscopic 3D display, whish uses a special reflective screen with a rippled texture. This means that different images can be projected to each eye, with no requirement for special glasses.

The system tracks the eyes of the viewer, calculating their position in space. Following this, it projects each pixel of the stereoscopic images to a particular spot on one of the screen's ripples, and reflects it into one or other of the viewer's eyes.

As to when Apple will create a product using this patent is yet to be announced. It is not the only company aiming to dispense with 3D glasses. Other companies with similar plans include Toshiba and Nintendo.