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There’s something uncanny about high, high technology in small, small places. But that’s exactly what Ortus Technology, a Japanese firm established in April of 2010 to focus on the small and medium-sized display market, has created. The company recently debuted a prototype of what it bills as the “world’s smallest full HD TFT panel.” (TFT stands for “thin film transistor.”) At 4.8 inches, the screen also features a glasses-free 3D effect.

When in 2D mode, the screen is similar to technology Ortus debuted in the fall of last year. The screen is so densely packed with pixels that, for all intents and purposes, it is “pixel-free.” In other words, with 458 pixels per square inch, that’s so dense that the human eye can’t actually discern one pixel from another, creating a seamless, realistic image. When in 3D mode, the pixel rate drops somewhat, though still remains rather high, 229 pixels per inch.

How does Ortus get the 3D effect, without the use of glasses? It’s relying on a polarizing film called Xpol, which it adheres carefully to the panel. The film enables the panel to “alternately show images for the right and left eye on each line,” according to Ortus. Arisawa Manufacturing, another Japanese company, is behind that technology. This isn’t the first glasses-free 3D experience, of course; the new Nintendo 3DS system famously uses a similar concept to achieve its results. Nintendo actually seems to have taken the user experience into mind more carefully; it employs a 3D slider, rather than an on-off toggle, for varying degrees of the 3D effect. Toshiba, similarly, debuted a glasses-free 3D TV last fall, making those goofy oversized lenses something of an endangered species, these days.

Rounding out the array of Ortus’s more-impressive-than-is-really-necessary specs are its viewing angle (160 degrees, reportedly) and color capabilities (it can render “up to 16.77 million” hues, for those of you with superhumanly high color sensitivity).

An Ortus spokesman in this DigInfo video says that he foresees the technology being particularly useful in commercial 3D cameras. The idea is that you would snap a photo, then instantly check the 3D effect, much as you instantly check on the 2D images you snap today.

When will the tech reach the market? We don’t know yet. “We haven’t set a date for the market launch,” said the Ortus rep, “but we could start production in the near future, depending on demand from customers.” So in some measure, it’s up to you.

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