Three-dimensional masterpieces are awe-inspiring to look at, whether it’s the popular 3D dog in Tokyo or the giant Nike Air Max 3D ad in China. They have become so realistic that they will make you wonder if they’re really 2D or something you can actually touch. This is not surprising, especially since the industry is expected to grow from 2021’s 7 billion US dollars to 8.7 billion US dollars when 2026 comes. In this article, we explore, How do 3D billboards work?

If you are also wondering what makes these trendy billboards special and how they become an incredible weapon for marketing and advertising, learning about how 3D billboards work is a fun study to involve yourself in. 

What are 3D billboards?

Let’s start with the basics and define what 3D billboards actually are. 3D (three-dimensional) billboards are outdoor LED screens that deliver eye-catching and realistic content that seems to be part of the real world, unlike the traditional videos and images that seem unreachable. Some of the popular examples of these 3D billboards are found in NYC’s Time Square and Tokyo’s Shibuya Crossing. 

Much of the content you will see in these 3D billboards will make you feel like you’re in a science fiction film, where the technology is so advanced. Considering how amazing these massive displays look, it’s not surprising to wonder, “How do 3D billboards work”. It’s even more impressive since most 3D videos and images involve using equipment like 3D glasses. Isn’t that incredible?

How do 3D Billboards work when installed?

How do 3D billboards work? To understand how these images are brought to life, it’s important to start with the basics. The process can be quite complicated, especially when you’re dealing with a technology that can produce an illusion of three-dimensional content despite dealing with flat LED screens. 

The first step to understanding how do 3D billboards work is by answering the question, how are 3D billboards made? To put it simply, 3D billboards are created using two images displayed through the LED screens, tricking the human brain into seeing a realistic image or video with depth rather than the actual flat-lay images. The two images are captured from different perspectives and are combined into one scene, which produces the illusion of depth. 

Definition Of Terms

The first step in this process is to understand the terms that are part of the process. Here are some of the terms you will encounter in learning how 3D billboards work and the 3D technology responsible for tricking the human brain into seeing what it’s not actually looking at. 


This term refers to the binocular cue used and optimized in the technology used in 3D billboards. It is particularly connected to humans’ perception of depth. With 2 images captured from different angles combined as one, there is an illusion of depth which is stereopsis at work. 

Binocular Parallax (Binocular or Horizontal Disparity)

One eye has approximately 6.3 cm distance from its pair and each creates a different image of the same object. This difference in look is what binocular parallax is and is very important in understanding how 3D billboards work. Also referred to as binocular/horizontal disparity, this phenomenon is used in 3D technology, taking into account what the left and right eye can see and then combining them both in one frame. This concept makes it possible for 3D billboards to awe everyone. 

3D display principle
How do 3D billboards work

Visual Cortex

This is the area in the brain responsible for combining the two varied images captured by the left eye and the right eye. It is responsible for processing the 2 different images into one solid object despite being 2D and without depth.

Forced Perspective

This principle is the more prevalent one applied to 3D LED billboard technology. Answering how do 3D billboards work includes the acknowledgment that the audience looking at the display is “forced” to see what the creators of the content wanted them to see. This principle takes out the need for VR gear or 3D glasses just to appreciate the content to the fullest. 

Naked-eye 3D Technology

To put it simply, this term refers to the technology that allows you to see a three-dimensional image or video despite literally looking at a 2D image and without the assistance of other equipment like 3D glasses or VR headgear. 

Texture Gradients

This term simply refers to the surface’s texture as the basis of the relative distance of objects to everything around them. The farther the object is, the more compressed and the details become less bold. 


This is another element you need to learn about to understand how 3D billboards work. It refers to the shadow usually cast by an object when subjected to light and can actually promote the “realness” of the 3D content. The shading adds to the authenticity of an object and is often an element in a 3D object. 


This is a vital element in 3D technology that makes it possible to produce an illusion of solid objects. It is another brain cue that takes into account the distance and depth to create a solidified image that makes it look more realistic rather than a simple 2D image.

Understanding How 3D Billboards Operate

Now that you know all the important terms that you will encounter with answering how do 3D billboards work, the next step is to learn the role of these principles in its operation. Let’s start with how the human brain works.

The human brain processes images based on what it sees. Its incredible visual processing starts with data gathering of the eyes. While looking at the same image, technically each eye actually sees the image differently. The understanding of this binocular disparity and how the stereopsis is processed in the visual cortex gave birth to the creation of 3D content on LED billboards. 

The answer to “How do 3D billboards work?” is that the audience is set into this forced perspective through 3D content optimized with the right textured gradient, shading, and perspective. This allows the viewing of 3D content images or videos without the need for 3D glasses or VR headgear and the illusion that what the audience is seeing is actually three-dimensional. Technically, this is known as naked-eye 3D technology. 


Learning how 3D billboards work requires an understanding of how the human brain operates. It involves the use of principles that can trick the naked eye into seeing a three-dimensional image or video when it’s actually 2D. The LED displays show 2 images of the same image from different perspectives combined as one like how the eye works. 

Whether you like to understand deeper how 3D billboards work or just to know the basic principle of the matter, the important thing is to enjoy the visual experience to the fullest. 3D billboards offer an impressive visual experience unlike any other, which is why they are highly popular today.

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