Are you ready for 3D screens? 3D technology is not just for movie theaters anymore. It's coming home and already yielding new promotional opportunities for a variety of businesses with the emergence of glasses-free 3D TV.
Sharp developed the first autostereoscopic LCD display for its notebook, but New York-based 3D Fusion is currently the recognized leader in the industry with the first broadcast quality, glasses free 3D TV display. 3D Fusion designed the 3D TV platform to mimic the way the eye sees, basing it on a combination of depth-mapping algorithms and stereoscopic left and right 3D data.
3D TV technology has been around for several years, but the adoption had been slow – until recently. Now, it's becoming a staple in the retail and entertainment industries. Retailers, malls, casinos and the gaming industry are using it to grab attention and increase sales. For theaters, it provides an opportunity to show previews of 3D movies – which carry a higher ticket value – before other 2D movies and gives moviegoers the 3D experience.
Its extensive educational opportunities are already capturing the attention of the medical field and schools. The 3D TV technology is expected to be used in healthcare and schools in the next two years. For the first time, the technology allows a clip of the human body to come alive so viewers can travel inside and zoom in to see a three dimensional heart pumping.
Home use will follow. 3D Fusion already has given some sports fans a taste of what it would be like to watch their favorite team in 3D from the comfort of their couch. Experiences like that drive consumer adoption and are making it likely that 3D TVs will be more commonplace in homes in the next three to five years.
For businesses, it will take the virtual meeting to a new level, giving the illusion that you are in the same room as participants in a video conference.
How it Works
3D technology actually dates back to the 1950s, but truly emerged worldwide in the 1980s and 1990s with the popularity of IMAX high-end theaters. Today, there are three types of 3D technology: passive, active and glasses free. Here's how each of them work:
- Passive: This is the 3D technology that most people relate to. It uses red or blue glasses or glasses with polarized lenses to block different kinds of light from each eye to create the illusion of depth. Polarized stereoscopic pictures date back to 1936 when Edwin H. Land first applied it to motion pictures and it became mainstream in the 80s.
- Active: Eyewear is still required, but in this case, the glasses talk back and forth with the 3D display. The glasses actually are small LCD screens that alternately dim the left and right "lenses" in succession. This tends to provide a better image – with more details and a softer feel. When this technology came out, it was projected to grab the consumer market. But the early active-shutter glasses were prohibitively expensive, and often hard to use for prolonged periods of time.
- Glasses Free: This method displays stereoscopic images – adding the binocular perception of 3D depth – without the use of special headgear or glasses on the part of the viewer. That means anyone passing by or looking at the display can see the three-dimensional clips. 3D Fusion's technology displays multiple views so that the display does not need to sense where the viewer's eyes are located.
While the possibilities with glasses free 3D TV could be endless, adoption is restricted by both affordability and the availability of content. Right now, it is still expensive to convert 2D into 3D so the content is limited. But that is expected to change as the price lowers and more consumers want to bring the 3D experience home and more businesses want to achieve better results.