Sony Prepares to Enter the Third Dimension

Many of Sony’s initiatives over the past few years have been only modestly successful. Clearly the company would really like a new product offering to hit a home run. To that end, Sony has apparently determined that the best path to reclaiming its’ reputation for world class product innovation, as well as to start making money, is to move - big time - into 3D.

During his keynote speech at the at IFA consumer electronics technology trade show in Berlin and at a related press conference, Howard Stringer, Sony’s Chief Executive Officer and Chairman, stated that stereoscopic 3D technologies are crucial for next generation entertainment. He went on to state that the company is planning a major push into the 3D electronics marketplace. A memorable take away line from Stringer’s presentations was the "3D train is on the track - and we’re the ones to drive it home."

The company made several top level comments regarding its 3D intentions. We learned that Sony will continue to "accelerate its efforts across the Sony Group to create both attractive 3D hardware and content, and provide new forms of 3D enjoyment." In addition, that Sony expects to "leverage its wealth of technology and engineering resources spanning both professional and consumer markets to bring the optimum 3D viewing experience to the home, from 2010 and beyond."

Sounds good. Several other details became available regarding Sony’s intentions. The first is that 3D compatible Bravia LCD TV products will be sold globally with availability targeted for the end of 2010. The 3D LCD TVs will reportedly have a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels per eye, incorporate frame sequential display and require the viewer to wear active shutter glasses. In addition to TVs, Sony said it will also develop 3D compatibility into other devices, including Blu-ray Disc products. This makes Sony the first major TV manufacturer to announce a Blu-ray-based 3D system using LCD technology.

Earlier this year Panasonic Corp. also announced a shutter glass based 3D initiative. Since Sony and Panasonic are the two main driving forces within Blu-ray Disc Association, it seems likely that the BDA will designate shutter glasses as a standard for full-HD 3D video.

Sony also announced the eventual availability of 3D capable Vaio PCs and PlayStation3 systems. In addition, Sony may have already developed 3D games - but are holding off on an announcement pending an industry 3D standard. Not mentioned in the press release, but evident in the promotional video is what would seem to be a 3D CyberShot digital camera.

Other than the 3D TV, delivery dates were not revealed for the other 3D product offerings. The company has not indicated pricing for any of the new 3D products. Sony’s commitment to 3D has the potential to be an important factor in the complex and long playing process of bringing 3D technology into the mainstream of consumer electronics products.

By Art Berman, Display Daily