For those who think 3D on a flat screen is bogus, how about this? Swiss university École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) is working on a camera that captures images in all directions at oncewell, to be precise, all directions within a hemispherical patternand processes the resulting data to calculate the distance from the camera to each object in its visual field.
Update: This story now includes video of the inventor explaining the technology!
3D at home can be fun, but in my reviews of 3D displays from most major manufacturers (Sony, Samsung, LG, Toshiba, and Panasonic), I've come across a problem that has been little noted. This problem is not with the displays themselves, all of which do a good job with the 3D effect, apart from occasional ghosting or crosstalk (double images when one eye sees the image meant for the other eye).
Yesterday, Tom Norton and I attended a presentation called "3D For Real" put on by Stewart Filmscreen, Digital Projection, S1Digital, Crestron, and AV Partners at Stewart's training facility in Torrance, California. That's about an hour's drive from my house, not counting traffic problems. To make sure we got there before 9:00 AM, I set my alarm for stupid o'clock, which turned out to be unnecessary, since the morning traffic was much lighter than we expected, even through downtown LA. Fortunately, the trip was well worth the early alarm.
The first thing you’ll need to bring 3D home is a 3DTV. While they’re outwardly similar to any HDTV and fully capable of 2D playback, 3DTVs can decode and display 3D from one of several standard 3D formats. In general, 3D sets also offer separate setup menus for 2D and 3D material, plus additional 3D controls that can help you get the best out of 3D sources.
Some of these sets, like LCD models from Sony, Samsung, and Toshiba, and some new Panasonic plasmas, include special processing that converts 2D sources into a semblance of 3D. Our limited experience with this feature so far suggests that it can be effective with some material, but it’s no substitute for the real thing.
Yesterday, Panasonic and Xpand, makers of mostly commercial active-shutter 3D glasses, announced a standard synchronization protocol for this type of eyewear called M-3DI. The new standard is intended to improve compatibility between 3D TVs and home projectors, computers, and digital cinema, a problem that has plagued the current 3D marketplace since its inception over a year ago.
The Society for Information Display (SID) hosts an annual conference called DisplayWeek, during which the latest display technologies are unveiled, often long before they become available in actual products. At this year's show in Seattle, Washington, several 3D-related announcements have already been made, and it's only the first day.
This week's poll questionDo You Suffer From 3D Sickness?has yielded some interesting results. Of those who have voted so far, 38 percent say they never experience eye strain, headaches, nausea, etc. while watching stereoscopic content on 3D TVs or in 3D movie theaters, and 19 percent say they have never seen stereoscopic 3D. That leaves a whopping 43 percent who experience 3D sickness at least sometimes. Why?
For 50-some years, 3D has been promised as the next big thing in entertainment. In reality, it has been around a lot longer than that. Everyone remembers (or at least has seen references to) the red-and-blue or polarized glasses of yore that let you experience the likes of Captain EO and Jaws 3D in all their "glory." Some heavyweights in the movie industry are really pushing for 3D again, and its success in theaters may or may not have any effect on whether you bring 3D into your home. Personally, I feel my life is 3D enough and would prefer more 2-D, but that's just me.
A few months ago I wrote an article on various technologies in development that promise to bring 3D into your home, sans funny glasses. They're all a ways off from home use, but that doesn't mean you can't get 3D into your home. Two recently released products allow you to enjoy 3D in your home, right now. Maybe.
The 3D TV landscape got a whole lot more complicated at this year's CESand it was already plenty complicated before the show! In addition to displays that use active-shutter glasses, we now have some that use passive-polarized glasses and a few flat panels that use no glasses at all. In particular, I've been seeing quite a few blogs about glasses-free 3D, such as this one by Grant Clauser for CEPro and this one by Stewart Wolpin for TWICE. Both commentators reject the current viability of glasses-free 3D, which is more formally known as auto-stereoscopic, and with good reasonit looks lousy, and it confuses the 3D market considerably.
I received an e-mail on the last day of NAB announcing a demonstration of a new glasses-free 3D display technology from a company called 3DFusion, so I had to check it out before heading back to L.A. The company has licensed some 800 related patents from Philips and developed its own algorithms to solve the problems of limited viewing cones and crosstalk while using a lenticular filter on a flat-panel screen.
The long-anticipated debut of 3net, a 24/7 3D network co-founded by Discovery Communications, Sony, and Imax, is set for Sunday, February 13, 2011, at 8:00 PM ET, when it will be carried on DirecTV's channel 107. Those who tune in that evening will see China Revealed, followed by Into the Deep, which took the Imax 3D camera underwater for the first time, and Forgotten Planet, a look at the "strangest places on Earth."
One of the sessions in the Content Theater was presented by 3net, the 24/7 3D channel co-created by Imax, Discovery Channel, and Sony and currently available on DirecTV. In addition to the big projected image, six 42-inch Sony monitors located along the walls were showing the same content so we could see what it looks like on a typical home display, for which 3net's original content is designed.