Category Archives: Displays

Stereoscopy Amplifies Emotions Elicited by Facial Expressions

Stereoscopic facial expression stimuli

Six stereoscopic image pairs used in the experiment. The images can be seen in 3D by ‘looking through’ the image.


Mediated facial expressions do not elicit emotions as strongly as real-life facial expressions. In particular, 2D photographs of facial expressions fail to evoke emotions as strongly as live faces, possibly due to the low fidelity of the pictorial presentation. However, we found that 3D facial expressions evoke stronger emotions than their 2D counterparts. Due to the illusion of non-mediation, natural depth levels create the strongest emotional amplifications. In this experiment, we manipulated depth magnitude by varying the distance between the two cameras providing the left and right images for the 3D presentation.

Facial expressions are commonly studied with 2D photographs, while the results are generalized to the real world. Yet stereoscopic images replicate reality more faithfully and thus are more valid stimuli. One could say that 3D photographs trick the brain into thinking that the face in a 3D photograph is more real than in the 2D photograph

Whereas the negative valence and arousal elicited by angry expressions was most significantly amplified at the most natural depth magnitude, the positive valence elicited by happy expressions was amplified in both narrowed and natural depth conditions. The findings are relevant for virtual and augmented reality 3D displays such as Oculus Rift, indicating that 3D content must preferably provide a natural depth percept to provide emotion-evoking experiences.

Currently, 3D is mostly used in action films to emphasize the effects, but it could be also employed to enhance the emotions conveyed by the actors. The article was published in the open-access journal i-Perception: http://ipe.sagepub.com/content/6/6/2041669515615071.

Depth Artifacts in Passive 3D Displays

The passive vs. active 3D TV debate is ongoing. Both technologies have their advantages, and neither one is perfect. On one hand, active glasses provide full resolution, but are heavy, require a sync signal from the TV, and consume batteries. On the other hand, passive displays halve the vertical resolution of the TV, but the glasses are more comfortable. Furthermore, the horizontal interlacing rows of the passive display are still visible at the recommended viewing distance. Horizontal interlacing causes other problems, too, as we discovered in a recent study, published in ACM Transactions on Applied Perception.

Row interlacing

Left, an interlaced stereoscopic image pair for parallel viewing. The oblique edge of the dark object is highlighted with a white rectangle. Right, the interlaced oblique edge displayed such that the odd pixel rows are intended for the right eye (R) and the even pixel rows are intended for the left eye (L). The white edges highlight the segment endpoints and the arrows point to the closest matches in the left eye image for the specific feature in the right eye image.

One could argue that by displaying half the pixels of the image to each eye, the resulting perceived resolution would be that of the full image. Intuitively, it would thus be beneficial to display every other pixel row of the image to the viewer. However, the visual system does not align the rows as neatly as we would like. Instead, it searches for matching features in the images from the left and right eyes. As a result, if we have an oblique edge as in the figure above, the visual system faces a choice whether to match the feature to the row above or below the feature.

In our study, some participants’ visual system preferred the match above, and others’ below. Whichever the direction was, all participants perceived depth where there should be none. The depth artifact was still visible at very small pixel sizes. To eliminate the depth artifact, the viewing distance for a 46″ HD resolution TV would have to be 7 meters (23 ft.) A more feasible solution to the problem is to average the even and odd rows of the image, effectively halving the vertical image resolution.