3D, 3D and More 3D

I recently returned from a visit to Taiwan and the 3D Imaging & Display Technology International Conference (3DID) in Taipei. In addition to the papers and exhibits on display at the event, our hosts, the Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) scheduled visits with CPT and AUO to highlight their activities in 3D displays. The combination provided a good overview of the 3D activities in Taiwan. Speakers at 3DID from Korea and Japan provided rundowns of activities in their countries too.

Most of the work at ITRI, CPT and AUO focused on the 3D displays themselves. For example, at ITRI, I learned about glasses and glasses-free micro-retarder 2D/3D-compatible displays and barrier technology for multiview displays. This included a 12 panel advanced 3D Display (i-Screen 3D). ITRI is also working on 3D image processing software including a dynamic object multi-view capture and 3D modeling/rendering system (4DCAP), multi-view stereo-3D image synthesis and 2D-to-3D image conversion.

AUO seems to be focusing on developing auto-stereoscopic displays for mobile phones, handheld devices and digital picture frames. It hopes to begin mass production in Q3'09, but remains a little concerned about the price delta of a 3D or 2D/3D display compared to a 2D display for these applications. AUO believes a 2X price premium is acceptable, but it seems concerned about being able to achieve this. In addition to displays targeted at these applications, AUO showed us a 24-inch micro-retarder type 2D/3D display.

During a visit to Chunghwa Picture Tubes’ (CPT) Gen-6 LCD fab, we were shown a room full of technology demonstrations. These included barrier-type, glasses-free 2D/3D switchable displays at 10, 15.4, 20, and 26 inches; a glasses-based micro-retarder-type 37-inch 2D/3D switchable display; and a two-panel foreground/background display at around 24 inches. CPT uses slanted barriers to equalize the horizontal and vertical resolution loss in its multiview displays. As content on their 37" unit, they showed something you wouldn’t see in a R&D demo in the US: pornography taken from the midnight Japanese BS-11 3D transmission (no, they did not show anything graphic in case you were wondering). Since adult content has been and is likely to continue as a major driver for 3D imaging, this is realistic, if unexpected.

While this trip to Taiwan did not include a stop in Korea, Dr. Ji Sang Yoo of Kwangwoon University in South Korea spoke at 3DID and gave a very comprehensive presentation of the 3D activities in South Korea. In addition to multiple large and small Korean companies, three organizations in Korea are making serious efforts in 3D.

ETRI (Electronics and Telecommunication Research Institute) seems to be focusing on the Digital Broadcast Media (DBM) standard and multi-view displays for mobile customers using the DBM standard.

KETI (Korea Electronics Technology Institute) is focused more on 3D image acquisition and processing. It is developing multi-camera systems, compression and view-synthesis techniques, and 2D-to-3D conversion algorithms.

At KIST (Korea Institute for Science and Technology), researchers are developing a number of related technologies and prototype products, such as a multi-focus 3DTV, 3D mobile phones, 3DTV remotes and 3D gaze-estimation techniques.

Let’s not forget Japan. Dr. Kazumasa Enami, executive director of the Universal Media Research Center and director general of the Keihanna Research Laboratories, provided 3DID an overview of 3D government, institute and university activities in Japan. He discussed four institutions focusing on 3D in Japan, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC), the 3D Consortium with 55 member companies; the Institute of Image Information and Television Engineers (ITE) with 12 study groups; and the Ultra Realistic Communication Forum (URCF) with 100 member companies and 98 member professors. Much of the activity in Japan remains academic in nature with a longer-term horizon, but some could filter out into products within a few years, we suspect.

A full six-page report on this activity will be published in upcoming Insight Media newsletters. And don’t forget 3D Biz-Ex in California later this month. 4 days of 3D in LA - what’s not to love about that!

By Chris Chinnock, DisplayDaily