Japanese Firms Push 3D Overlay Materials

Two Japan based firms, Globalwave and Newsight Japan Ltd., both are offering new AS-3D overlay film solutions to turn the popular iPad or iPhone into a 3D display. At Display Taiwan, Kiyoto Kanda of Newsight Japan was showing off iPads creating an AS-3D image (no-glasses.) Later at the 3D and Virtual Reality Exhibition, Tadahiro Kawamura, CTO of Globalwave, showed a product called Pic3D.

Pic3D uses a lenticular lens overlay, while Kanda told us his technology was a parallax barrier overlay sheet, to create the AS-3D image on the iPad product. On the big screen TV side, Kanda showed an eight-zone 42-inch AS-3DTV, also using parallax barrier technology. But he is not locked into PB for 3D images. Kanda also had an 18.5-inch 3-D screen using a lenticular lens and added that he could provide lenticulars for displays up to 80-plus inches in diagonal.

The Pic3D lenticular lens helps the company get "a smoother, much more consistent picture." They claim several advantages to conventional parallax barrier method including 90% light transmission (versus only 30% from parallax barrier films), 120-degree viewing angle (versus 30 to 60-degrees) and support for up to 23-inch size displays using this new lenticular film. Pic3D has product offerings in 23-, 21.5- 15-, 12, iPad, and iPhone4 sizes.

In a YouTube video, Kawamura said about the Globalwave approach: "Basically it will work with video files which are in the side by side format, and if you input URLs for side by side formatted content on sites such as YouTube, it will work with them too. Right now we plan to begin sales in early August, and at first we plan to sell it through our own direct sales website." The product is sold on-line at the Pic3d web site with prices that range from $185 (23-inch size less VAT and other taxes) to about $25 for the iPhone overlay screen.

Kanda believes in a total ecosystem solution for 3D. His company, Newsight Japan, includes development of hardware, applications and content. His hardware solution extends from the largest 80-inch-plus LCDs from Sharp to mobile displays with his film overlay. Kanda also said they will develop 3D apps to help show-off the technology on the Apple (and other mobile) products. Newsight also does 2D to 3D content conversion, with several signs around Display Taiwan indicating 3D content shown (in the CPT booth for instance) which came from Newsight technology.

We think Kanda is right, and content will be the driving factor in adoption of these overlay films, particularly in the mobile space. Of course, this content is display agnostic: properly formatted 3D content will show correctly on either lenticular or parallax barrier systems. It won’t just be professional 3D content either. 3D images from new digital still cameras and other emerging CE devices will drive interest in displaying AS 3D on all size displays. Gaming will also help drive mobile 3D adoption, that could include content and film overlay distribution bundles with game software makers.

But the ultimate test will be in the image quality, and a "good-enough" AS-3D experience to warrant all the trouble. The engineers have built it, now will the sales come?

By Steve Sechrist, Display Daily