A perfect three-dimensional (3D) display that satisfies all depth cues in human vision is possible if a light field can be reproduced exactly as it appeared when it emerged from a real object. The light field can be generated based on either light ray or wavefront reconstruction, with the latter known as holography. This paper first provides an overview of the advances of ray-based and wavefront-based 3D display technologies, including integral photography and holography, and the integration of those technologies with digital information systems. Hardcopy displays have already been used in some applications, whereas the electronic display of a light field is under active investigation. Next, a fundamental question in this technology field is addressed: what is the difference between ray-based and wavefront-based methods for light-field 3D displays? In considering this question, it is of particular interest to look at the technology of holographic stereograms. The phase information in holography contributes to the resolution of a reconstructed image, especially for deep 3D images. Moreover, issues facing the electronic display system of light fields are discussed, including the resolution of the spatial light modulator, the computational techniques of holography, and the speckle in holographic images.
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