CEDIA Day 3: The Return of 3D

3-D in Home Theater

A 3D technology that doesn't require glasses is demoed behind closed doors at CEDIA. And there's talk Blu-ray wants a piece of the 3D pie.

Sep. 06, 2008 — by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

About 8 CEDIAs and other tradeshow years ago, a semi-updated 1950s technology was introduced that wowed the conventioneers, media attendees and industry analysts alike. It was the first TV-based 3D viewing of live and video-taped theatrical content. But the lack of an accepted standard from manufacturers, movie-makers and TV producers, let the next 3D die right there.

The 2000 version by X3D could be viewed by attaching a small converter box to your VCR, while the Texas Instruments version was seemingly built into the TV. Both systems required glasses. X3D, a small U.S.-German technology firm now known as NewSight-X3D, also showed off a version of their 3D technology that was superior to TI because it also worked with video games and while fraught with factory problems, still was a pretty compelling experience. A strange physical bug that occurred when young women viewed any content in that format for more than 45 minutes also hampered X3D.

Well, the next generation was kind of reborn here the last few days on stage and behind closed doors at CEDIA.

NewSight-X3D, Texas Instruments and several off-site video game makers offered up a standard definition 3D demo using a Samsung DLP TV and a Mitsubishi HDTV that was a slightly improved version of what some of us had witnessed in movie theaters in the late 50s and early 60s. Sony, Hyundai, Funai-Philips in Japan and the Netherlands are also showing a stereoscopic version in their own respective countries, which is expected in the U.S by spring. All of these versions are 8-years better, despite the fact you still have to wear glasses. The Samsung and the Mitsubishi TVs are rear projection models, which still require an adapter and customized software to work, but work they do…

But the most impressive version of this technology belongs to Newsight-X3D. It doesn’t require glasses, and though previously limited to viewing from about 20 feet away, is one the best and most realistic of its kind.

NewSight-X3D can be experienced in several shopping malls and airports in the U.S and Europe and is used mainly for advertising with custom design content for these systems. The NewSight/X3D uses 60-70 inch specially designed Pioneer and Mitsubishi flat screen monitors. Their technology previewed overseas live about a month ago, but shown behind closed doors at CEDIA.

According to NewSight’s CTO Keith Frederickson, the next wave in consumer entertainment will be 3D movies and videos in the home. “NewSight’s VCam technology revolutionizes 3D content production by providing a simple and low cost conversion process for 3D digital cinema productions to be viewed glasses-free at home. The VCam technology will supposedly support real-time broadcast and transmission of 3D. “With VCam you can convert 3D movies like ‘Meet the Robinsons,’ ‘Beowulf,’ and ‘Hanna Montana’ 3D into a format that lots of people can watch at the same time without using 3D glasses,” Frederickson claims.

But the biggest news out of this show is the rumored conversion of Blu-ray discs and Blu-ray players so that they can deliver 3D technology built into the content and technology itself.

Supposedly, NewSight-X3D, while experiencing some financial problems, has nevertheless approached several of its business hardware suppliers like Pioneer, Mitsubishi and others, to discuss using its proprietary 3D software conversion codecs and other systems that are being used in their enterprise related 3-D products, for consumer uses.

In addition the major motion picture studios are looking for a way to leverage the Blu-ray software technology and robust storage capacity to make sure the hotter than hot category stays hot.

This look to the future in the present comes on the heels of the studios and manufacturers trying to also make BD Live, an embedded feature on all video releases. There are many industry experts who believe that BD Live is only a generational demographic with limited large-scale age group appeal. But 3D on TV has mass appeal.

Andy Parsons, senior vice president of advanced product development, at Pioneer and chief of the Blu-ray Disc Association, would neither confirm or deny that Pioneer was developing a 3D Blu-ray player, but did acknowledge that there’s a number of Blu-ray features on the hardware and software side that both the Association and Pioneer were looking at.

“Blu-ray has raised the bar and offered the manufacturer and movie maker even more room to enable technologies and to refine them and introduce them quicker than ever,” Parsons says.

A 3D Star Wars in movie theaters soon…maybe Christmas…a distinct possibility say many experts.

A 3D Stars wars in your living room? Well you know how fast some movie features are getting into DVD and Blu-ray…How about Easter?

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