3D Innovations Running Fast and Furious

We have been saying for a while that activities in 3D are at a near fever pitch. Recent news from IFA, IBC and CEDIA has confirmed this trend. Over the last week, 3D Biz-Ex ran in LA, the CEATEC exhibition concluded in Japan and the 3D @ Home Consortium held its quarterly meeting in LA. Add in all the other 3D news in the last week and it is clear that the drumbeat for 3D is pounding at a pretty good rate. To drive home this point, I have compiled a snapshot of some of the more interesting demos and announcements related to stereoscopic 3D that have occurred in just the last week.

- JVC showed a 2D-to-3D real time conversion demo that some thought quite compelling. To date, most demos of this sort have not been very good compared to natively acquired 3D content. JVC has a long history in this area and actually licensed some of this core technology to Sensio some years back. It looks like the content was output in line-interleaved format to a Hyundai 3D LCD TV, with the 3D effect viewed with passive polarized glasses. By the way, we have just learned that this TV, which was sold only in the Japan market to support display of 3D content on BS-11, will now be discontinued.

- Panasonic jumped into the 3D arena with a 103" 3D PDP demo. Using a modified Blu-ray player, Panasonic fed the PDP 1080i L/R images at 60Hz in a field sequential format. Each eye image is converted to a 60Hz progressive image and displayed at 120Hz, resulting in a 60Hz 3D image. Users wear active shutter glasses to see each left and right eye image in sequence. 3D footage of the closing ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics was shown, but no commercialization plans were announced, however.

- NICT and JVC teamed up to show off a 72-inch auto-stereoscopic 3D display based on using an array of 1080p projectors illuminating a special (holographic, we think) screen. This produced a 100 megapixel display with a +/- 20 degree viewing cone. Commercialization is set for 2011.

- Sensio teamed up with Inition and Can Communication to do a live 3D boxing transmission and display demo. Content was shown on a Spectron IQ LCD 3D TV. By the way, Spectron IQ has canceled the launch of this TV and is now reorganizing the company.

- KDDI showed off an auto-stereoscopic LCD display that it intends to use in cell phones by the end of 2009. The WVGA panel uses a parallax barrier to help direct L/R eye images and includes software and/or hardware to do 2D-to-3D conversion of images.

- Pioneer was showing off a 3D floating image technology demo that showed a bottle with a lemon moving into a screen with a fish on it.

- Hitachi Information Systems and CAD Center plan to start selling 3D digital signage that incorporates touch screens, with content developed by CAD Center. Hitachi claims to hold a 13% share in the 2D digital signage market, but with 3D displays, it hopes to build its share to 20%.

- Philips debuted a 56" auto-stereoscopic display based on a 3840 x 2160 resolution LCD panel. This creates 56 viewing zones, allowing for very smooth transitions between zones and a big jump up in the apparent resolution of the image. This is one way to create a compelling no-glasses 3D image, albeit an expensive one.

- VisuMotion showed a new 5-camera content acquisition system that can help gather multi-view images for auto-stereoscopic displays.

- TDVision showed a software solution that encodes content in their proprietary format, allowing Blu-ray Players 2.0, most Set Top Boxes and PCs to play the encoded content with a simple firmware upgrade.

- The Heinrich Hertz Institute showed single-user 20.1" XGA and 24" WXGA auto-stereoscopic displays with head tracking. This allows a single user to move in front of the display without leaving the sweet spot of the display.

- Tridelity will debut a new 57" auto-stereoscopic display at a Dubai trade show next week. This follows last week’s introduction of a 42" model with a built-in PC.

- Sony unveiled how it will use its 4K projector for 3D. Using a clever optical assembly mounted on the front of the projection lens, Sony will optically combine two 1920×1080 sections of its QFHD imagers to create a 3D image. It will be demonstrated at ShowEast next week.

- The first 3D Film Festival will take place in Orlando and Cocoa Beach, Florida this weekend and continue following the ShowEast event. This is the first such exclusive 3D event and it will feature the debut of new content, prizes and 3D lounges.

- Dolby says it screened the first Dolby 3D movie in China running Journey to the Center of the Earth at a Shanghai Cineplex. The company has also been selected to screen the upcoming Egypt 3D: Secrets of the Mummies, a companion 3D movie experience to the National Geographic touring exhibition Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs.

- Christie and EON Reality teamed up to create Discovery World’s Human Interactive Virtual Education (HIVE) immersive 3D environment that allows visitors a "near-real" experience of life around them by placing them in the middle of virtual, three-dimensional worlds. Visitors will find themselves hovering above the water in a small town in Portugal, or flying through the solar system - plus any of the other 28 experiences that are available.

This snapshot is centered on new demos and announcements, but if you consider all the other 3D Biz-Ex demos, panels and presentations, there was even more information in the pipeline. Plus, the 3D @ Home Consortium held its quarterly meeting in LA last week and made some progress on the four steering teams it has organized to help in the commercialization of 3D products for the home.

If this is a snapshot of just one week’s activities, I think you can get the picture about the speed of development in 3D.

By Chris Chinnock, DisplayDaily