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End in sight to TV rows

Tokyo, July 15: A new type of television will provide a high-tech peace treaty for those endless family rows about who gets to watch what: the world’s first liquid crystal display that shows two completely different images depending on where you are sitting.

Equipped with DualView ' a British technology designed at Sharp’s laboratories in Oxford ' a flat-screen TV can be showing EastEnders to everyone sitting on the right-hand side of the sofa, while those on the left (and listening with headphones) could be playing a video game or watching snooker.

The crucial factor is the angle from which the viewer is watching the screen.

The screen has been designed so that the two angles are well within the bounds of normal viewing behaviour. At about 3 feet from the screen, two people sitting just a foot apart would see different pictures. And in each case, the image would occupy the full screen.

That would make a big difference to video games, since if two people were playing they could both see the full screen rather than have to put up with the present arrangement of splitting it in half.

As the technology was unveiled yesterday, Sharp said it had readied its factory to begin mass-production of the double-vision screens by the end of July, and will be selling the screens on to other companies such as Sony and Panasonic to develop new products using the technology.

The DualView works by introducing a minute filter in front of the existing LCD display. The filter sends the image from the backlight in two directions. The same barrier serves to block the unwanted image from the viewers on either side. Sharp believes that DualView will lead to “greater harmony in the living room”.

But its ambitions go beyond televisions: one of the first applications for the DualView will be in cars, where the screens used in navigation systems could be put to double use ' the driver would see only the map and traffic information, while the passenger could be watching a DVD.

Sharp also believes that DualView would be of huge interest to the advertising industry, as it would allow two separate images to be shown from the same billboard.

The technology behind the DualView screen was originally designed in Sharp’s top-secret research facility at a science park on the outskirts of Oxford. For the past three years, a team of about 20 electronic and optical engineers have pitted themselves against the theoretical problem posed by their masters in Japan: how do you keep everyone happy in a family with only one television set'

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