Panasonic Proposes Blu-ray Disc Standard for 3D Imagery

Panasonic Corp of Japan has disclosed the submission of a proposal to the Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA), for a Blu-ray Disc standard to store three-dimensional (3D) imagery formed of left-/right-eye two-channel full-High Definition (HD) images (1,920 x 1,080 pixels). It is also considering submitting a proposal for a High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) standard capable of transmitting 3D imagery. The BDA hopes to begin formal discussion on the standard proposal before the end of 2008, with commercial adoption probably in 2010.

There are two reasons why Panasonic moved to propose a standard ahead of other firms: to avoid the same sort of futile standards war that occurred with next-gen Digital Videodiscs (DVD), and to prevent patent conflict related to 3D imagery standards.

US film companies are beefing up their film production stances, preparing to handle the 3D images they hope will provide massive revenues; at the same time they are developing packaged 3D media for the home to create a new revenue stream. This trend has stirred up considerable activity in the background, with many companies scurrying to have their own proprietary 3D imagery standards adopted by the BDA. According to Masayuki Kozuka, general manager in charge of Storage Device Strategy, AVC Networks Company of Panasonic, “Standards wars, patent monopolies and the like would seriously interfere with the widespread adoption of any 3D image standard. We developed a standard based on existing technology, specifically designed for easy acceptance.”

Standard Technology
And, in fact, the technologies proposed by Panasonic for 3D imagery storage, transfer, etc, all utilize existing standard technology. Image encoding uses the two-channel encoding function implemented in Moving Picture Coding Experts Group Phase 4 Advanced Video Coding (MPEG-4 AVC) H.264. The second channel stores only the data different from channel one, holding the increase in data volume to about 1.5 times. The HDMI standard is used to transfer data from the player to the television, with left- and right-eye images alternated in single-field (single-frame) units. “All we have to do is define a flag to identify image data, equipment and other elements supporting 3D imagery. We really don’t need any other major changes,” explained Hiroshi Miyai, director, High Quality AV Development Center of Panasonic.

Panasonic is not planning to standardize the techniques for displaying 3D imagery. At CEATEC Japan 2008, the company exhibited a 103-inch plasma display panel (PDP) television displaying 3D pictures. It featured dual drive integrated circuits (IC) to achieve a high 120 frames/s, and modified phosphors to shorten plasma emission rise/fall times.

By Naoki Asakawa, Nikkei Electronics Asia