Laser-Driven 3D HDTV to Hit Market in 2010

HDI Ltd. has announced that it has entered into a manufacturing agreement to mass-produce their proprietary 100-inch diagonal laser-driven 2D/3D front-projection televisions. The company’s 2D/3D switchable system delivers a stereoscopic 1920 x 1080p 3D image from two RGB laser-illuminated LCOS display panels. The system, which uses polarized glasses to deliver 3D images, refreshes at 360 frames-per-second on each eye, possibly the fastest refresh rate on any mass-produced television or projector. A price range of between $10,000 and $15,000 is expected, the latter for a 100-inch display.

A green-friendly product is promoted as well. According to the company, the displays draw 80% less power than existing 2D plasma displays of the same size, offer a 95% reduction in manufacturing pollution, and provide a 100% reduction in harmful chemicals and radioactive components currently used in existing televisions. At 10-inches thick, HDI’s 100-inch diagonal display weighs 75% less than similar plasma and LCD displays, and is expected to have a street price potentially 60% less than current 2D flatscreen plasma and LCD displays.

The light engine uses three 1-watt lasers for illumination, which are coupled to a beam-combining prism by fiber-optic cables. A mechanical scanning system scans red, green and blue laser light from top to bottom on the LCOS panels. Light output at the screen has not been disclosed, but the company claims an incredibly-high 40% - 50% of the light from the lasers ends up in the viewers’ eyes. Speckle reduction on a prototype rear-projection unit was by means of a diffuser and mechanically rotating screen. For front projection, a screen-vibration system has been suggested. Rear-projection is also possible, according to HDI’s chief scientist Edmund Sandberg.

HDI emerged from stealth mode earlier in September. The company, which had been self-funded, is hoping to license its technology or build its own front-projection systems and flat-panel displays. Engineers and 3D experts from Sony, Sharp, JVC, Hitachi and even Mitsubishi crowded into HDI’s workshop in Los Gatos, Calif., recently to see a prototype 100-inch display. Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple Computers, has seen a demo, and said, "Without a doubt, the best demonstration of 3D technology I have ever seen."

According to co-founder Ingemar Jansson, "The first production run of 100-inch HDI Ltd. 2D/3D switchable displays should quickly put product into a multitude of B2B and public demonstration venues." He’s not said when the units will make it to the retail market, but says that the simplistic and inexpensive design and manufacturing techniques used "will have product in the marketplace faster than one would expect, either with the HDI logo or that of another leading manufacturer." He also says that, "It costs $4 billion to get a large screen plasma or LCD plant on line. Our technology will require five percent of that investment to produce HDI 2D/3D Switchable Dynamic Video Projection displays in quantity."

Will the display make a big splash? Introducing it for business use will create public awareness, as would a potential exhibit at CES in January. But the company will have to move this quickly to the mainstream, if you can call it that for a display of this size. If they hope to make inroads into the flat (or nearly-flat) display market, they’ll have to price it (and spec it) competitively with emerging 3D LCD and PDPs. And they better make sure they have the speckle issue completely licked.

By Aldo Cugnini, Display Daily