The well-known groups of information three-dimensional displays (further—3D displays) with habitual names “stereoscopic,” “holographic,” “volumetric,” “integral imaging,” “light field,” etc., were historically formed without any common classification criteria. However, 3D displays as physical (optical) information systems should have the fundamental classification criteria. Such criteria are introduced in this paper in the form of physical-information modalities (further – modalities) identifying the physical-information formats of 3D image recordings in the working media of 3D displays. The modalities are based on four physical-information categories defined as four possible combinations of two kinds of 3D scene data representation (the object O representation and the representation by angular spectrum S of spherical waves) and two physical forms of each representation implementation (the ray optics R and diffraction optics D concepts). The modality of 3D display defines the primary physical-information properties of 3D image recording in the working medium. The true 3D image properties follow from the primary ones taking into account the relevant psychophysiological properties of the human visual system. The human visual system directly perceives 3D image light distribution that have passed through the optical scheme of 3D display after exiting the working medium. The limits of the proposed theory are discussed.
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