Last year, I wrote about auto-stereoscopic systems that French men designed. Some of them, Maurice Bonnet and François Savoye, were particularly active from the 1940’s to the 1960’s. Have French inventors lost interest in auto-stereoscopy since?
Contemporary auto-stereoscopic displays
When Avatar release gave the S3D film production a new boost, the entire industry wondered how to bring S3D contents from movie theatres to people’s homes. But S3D films cannot reasonably be the only S3D contents for people to massively invest in adequate S3D displays. We cannot say that S3D broadcasting has been a success so far. Besides, manufacturers probably did not realise that what people would tolerate in cinemas, they would not accept it at home. I am here talking about the glasses. Some of them tried to make glasses-free 3DTV screens.
No technical alternative to the lenticular grid has been found, so the difficulties to build a glasses-free 3DTV are the same as for photography and cinema projection (cf. French Autostereoscopic Systems (PartI) and (PartII)). As a consequence, to enlarge the viewing area, you need to multiply the number of views. This works rather easily for computer generated contents, as the cameras are virtual. But can you just imagine filming live action using a S3D rig built with 8 to 10 cameras filming in sync on set? Rather difficult, I might say.
We cannot say that S3D home-screens have become a success either, and S3D books do not say much about S3D displays. When they address the S3D TV issue, Martin Barnier and Kira Kitsopanidou observe the lack of contents and the failure of some S3D channels, that only worked for a couple of years . Writing about auto-stereoscopic systems, they describe art installations and videos that, thanks to the projection or the display technique, reproduce a sense of depth and volume . Céline Tricart, who graduated from Louis-Lumière National Film School and now works as stereographer in the USA, however mentions  a French man named Pierre Allio, as a precursor for auto-stereoscopic displays.
Pierre Allio took out his first patent in 1987 and founded Alioscopy in 1999. Thanks to a proprietary algorithm they developed, that permits to generate 8 views of a scene, associated to a lenticular array fixed on the screen surface, Alioscopy society can provide glasses-free S3D screens that allow 20 to 50 people to watch S3D contents at the same time, depending on the screen size (from 21.5″ to 55″).
I have been lucky enough to speak with Mr Allio in person recently. He told me they managed to improve their proprietary algorithm so as to raise the number of views from 8 to 16. My only hope is that they continue to develop and improve their system.
 BARNIER Martin & KITSOPANIDOU Kira (2015), Le Cinéma 3-D, Paris: Armand Colin, 159–160.
 Ibid., 144–145.
 TRICART Céline (2013), La pratique de la mise en scène en 3D relief, Nice: La Baie des Anges, 134. (in French)
See also Alioscopy’s website: http://www.alioscopy.com/en/home.php