For all its glory, HDTV at high resolution still presents a 2 dimensional image that through our eyes and mind may appear to have 3 dimensions. At CEATEC 2009, in Chiba Japan, Sony and Panasonic have released prototypes of the first HDTV models that can present 3D images through Blu-ray. Both will require special eyeglasses to isolate the images and blend into 3D.
The emergence of 3 dimensional viewing was in the 1950′s when movie studios felt threatened by television. Movies were released with rudimentary 3D technology that required special glasses to decode the image. Without those glasses, the image seemed a blur.
In the 1980′s, early virtual reality simulations used 3D visual “glasses” that had a TV over each eye, dominating one’s visual field. This was the closest approximation of actual 3D view. While various versions of TV glasses have been released for consumer marketing, people haven’t greeted them enthusiastically.
Videogames have been developing 3D technologies for years. These require extensive video memory and processors to deliver a more realistic experience.
So why is it that 3D is playing such a significant role at Japan’s CEATEC cutting edge technology show? Manufacturers are clamoring to bring HDTV to its next step. It won’t necessarily occur in TV broadcasting but, like video games, through software. The initial 3D media is expects release on Blu-ray with 3D versions of current movies. Furthermore, computers with HDMI ports are beginning to play more significant roles as home-theater video sources to deliver 3D games and video as Internet downloads.
The only major manufacturer to take an assertive stance at 3D is Panasonic, one of a few companies that still support Plasma widescreen technology. Panasonic’s 3D Full HD Plasma Home Theater System enables the viewing of true-to-life 3D FHD images by using a Panasonic 103-inch Plasma HDTV and a Panasonic Blu-ray Disc (BD) player, capable of distributing full High Definition (1920 x 1080 pixels) images to the left eye and right eye.
The 3D experience occurs because the left and right eyes recognize different images. Panasonic’s 3D FHD system comprises a 103-inch Plasma HDTV and a Blu-ray Disc player that plays back Blu-ray Discs onto which 3D video (consisting of left- and right-sided 1080p Full HD images) are recorded. Full HD processing occurs on both the left- and right-sided 3D image in every single process – from recording, playback and display. With a special pair of active shutter glasses that work in synchronization with the Plasma HDTV, the viewer is able to experience 3D images formed with twice the volume of information as regular full HD images, and enjoy them together with high quality surround sound.
The question is “When will this be available?” It’s hard to say. At CEATEC, word is that 3D TV technologies will begin release to stores in 2010.
With over 50 years of technological pratfalls in bringing a smooth 3D experience to movies, one wonders if there are still obstacles that will befall manufacturers as they compete to offer the first 3D TV that makes sense to the public. Personally, I believe that true 3D TV means letting go of large TV screens and use 3D glasses to best view 3D. After all, with all 3D technologies to feed us, 3D is still mostly processed by our minds. 3D technologies must ultimately convert our individual mindsets. For all time, each human eye sees a relative 2-dimension image. Information from both our eyes appear as 3D through our individual brains. Creating a fluent visual field that will bring 3D perception of TV as a universal concept is among many challenges of things to come.
3D TV is waiting to come to you and will likely be the big topic when CES comes to USA in January.