Toshiba has unveiled the world’s first 3D television that doesn’t require glasses.

The Tokyo-based company hopes this could be the breakthrough that brings high-definition liquid crystal display 3D TV to the masses. Toshiba describes the TVs as being for ‘personal use’.

Whether consumers embrace the new TVs remains to be seen. Many might be put off by the fact that they’ll have to be very close to the screen for the 3D effect to really work - not to mention the steep price tag.

In its new TVs, Toshiba uses a ‘perpendicular lenticular sheet,’ which consists of an array of small lenses that direct light from the display to nine points in front of the TV. If a viewer is sitting within the optimal viewing zone, the brain integrates these points into a single 3D image.

“The result is a precise rendering of high-quality 3D images whatever the viewing angle within the viewing zone,” the Daily Mail quoted Toshiba as saying.

The system is similar to what’s used in Nintendo’s 3DS, the company’s highly anticipated hand-held device that features glasses-free 3D gaming.

Toshiba will offer two sizes - 12 inches and 20 inches. The technology is not advanced enough yet to integrate into larger screens. Suggested viewing distance for the 20-inch model is 90 centimetres (35.4 inches) and 65 centimetres (25.6 inches) for the 12-inch size.

The TVs will go on sale in Japan in late December, Toshiba said. The smaller version will cost about 120,000 yen (912 pounds), and the larger one will be double the price.

The company did not release details on overseas availability.