Years from now, will people look back at this date as a defining moment in the great 3D wars?
Probably not, but it’s interesting still, and a good thing for consumers if it takes off.
Panasonic—which makes 3D plasmas, has a 3D production unit in Hollywood and uses active shutter glasses for its 3D TVs—has announced , along with XPAND—a company that makes active shutter 3D glasses—a new 3D glasses standard called M-3DI. This standard is supposed to bring a new era of interoperability among 3D TVs and commercial theaters.
Panasonic and XPAND aren’t going it alone. They’ve brought along technology companies including Changhong Electric, FUNAI (makers of Philips TVs), Hisense, Hitachi Consumer Electronics Co., Ltd., Mitsubishi Electric Corporation, Seiko Epson, SIM2 and ViewSonic Corporation.
Companies will be able to license the M-3DI technology next month. The basic concept is this—with a standard, prices should fall, confusion will lesson, people will be able to take their glasses to their friends’ houses or their local Cineplex without worry about compatibility. There are about 3,500 commercial theaters that use XPAND active glasses (according to XPAND’s web site), but most of them are not in the US.
Commenting on the standard, XPAND 3D Chief Executive Officer Maria Costeira noted, “M-3DI eliminates confusion, provides a strong, uniform performance standard and ensures that manufacturers can concentrate on innovation and consumers can count on interoperability.”
This is great first step, but it’s just a little step and missing a lot of elements, namely Samsung, Sony, Toshiba, Sharp, LG …
Oh, yes, LG Display, the company bringing that other standard—Film Pattern Retarter, also known as FPR or passive polarized glasses. Only a few companies (including LG, Toshiba and Visio) have plans to market passive-polarized 3D TVs, the company is trying hard to win over others. The main benefits of passive glasses are that they’re cheap (about $10), and they work in most commercial theaters (but not the XPAND theaters). LG also produces TVs (plasma and Nano-based LED 3D TVs) that use active-shutter glasses.
The Consumer Electronics Association also wants a standard, at least a standard for active shutter glasses that use infra red technology for their wireless signals (new Samsung glasses use Bluetooth), so CEA will likely be taking a close look at this.
XPAND already markets what it calls universal glasses, so it’s not a surprise to see the company get behind an initiative to make universality official. The fact that so many of the other major TV makers haven’t joined hands in this is troubling, but that’s how format wars go. Stay tuned.
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Grant Clauser has been covering home electronics for more than 10 years with editorial roles in several consumer and trade magazines. He's done ISF-level damage to hundreds of reviewed products and has had training from THX, the Home Acoustics Alliance, Control4 and Sencore. He's also the author of the book The Trouble with Rivers
. Follow him on Twitter @geclauser.