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Amy Reibman: Alumnus Stalks 3D in the Living Room

Graduation Year: 1987

Degree at Duke:
Bachelor of Science

Career Highlights:

  • AT&T Labs Research

Some day, people will routinely watch 3-D movies in their living rooms just as they now watch movies on their computer monitors.

Electrical engineer Amy Reibman (B.S. '83, M.S. '84, Ph.D. '87) has been involved in both of these technologies. During her 18 years at AT&T Labs Research, she has worked to improve the quality of video transmitted over networks, just as she is now in the early stages of making 3-D television readily available.

“I’ve always been interested in what happens to video between the time it leaves the source to the time when it is seen by the viewer,” said Reibman, a Lead Member of Technical Staff at AT&T. “As a network service provider, AT&T is quite interested in finding out how the network can improve video quality.

"When I joined AT&T, there was a lot of buzz about video over networks – video was going to be the ’killer app‘,” she continued. “However, it wasn’t until past two or three years, with the success of YouTube, that so many people began watching video over the network. It has been interesting to watch its development, and finally see that the predictions from 18 years ago, that video over networks would be ubiquitous, has finally happened.”

Her next challenge involves improving 3-D technology generally, and then figuring out a way to transmit the content to homes while maintaining the 3-D effect.

“Right now we’re working on ways to make the 3-D viewing experience more comfortable,” she said. “Watching 3-D movies can make some people feel dizzy or nauseous.

“However, the quality of the movies is beginning to improve. Instead of just trying to wow the audience by making things fly out of the screen, 3-D moviemakers are starting figure out that to be successful, they need to use the 3-D to draw you in and tell a better story,” she said.  “Today, the 3-D movies themselves are looking better. But there still are a lot of technical hurdles to overcome before we can bring the 3-D experience into the living room.”

She estimates it may be 15 years before we see this technology go mainstream.

Originally written Summer 2009