Tech Review: 3-D TV

June 7, 2010 at 9:34 pm (Assignments, Tech Review)

The whole world seems to be obsessed with 3-D movies and TV shows.  Half of the movies coming out nowadays are in 3-D.  This move towards 3-D in theatres has sparked an interest in getting the same 3-D experience at home.  And that brought about the dawn of the 3-D television.

3-D ready televisions are very reliant on the glasses that must be worn when viewing a 3-D program.  The glasses use LCD technology and infrared sensors to connect with your TV and produce the 3-D image.  What happens is the picture from the TV will alternate between two images that are slightly offset from each other.  The images are alternating so fast that your eyes think that two images are being displayed at the same time.  It’s the same concept used to create the “moving” images we’ve been watching for over a century.  While the TV is producing these alternating images, the glasses are alternating which eye is able to see the TV right in time with the images.  This, along with the offset images, tricks your brain into thinking the image has depth.

Unfortunately, this technology isn’t usable on just any TV.  You have to have a 3-D ready TV, which has a special port, in order to use it.  By hooking up a stereoscopic sync signal connector to your TV and an IR emitter, the TV will be able to synchronize with the LCD glasses.

Of course, the majority of content is not 3-D ready yet.  Since most movies were made long before this technology existed, it will take a long time for them to be converted.  When we visited Lucent Pictures, we were able to see the content they are working on changing to 3-D.  They were able to show us clips from 300, Earth, and the Bruce Lee movie Game of Death, as well as both pictures and clips from a couple of anime shows. It is much easier if the content is created with 3-D in mind in the first place, but over time, companies like Lucent Pictures will be able to convert most of the well-known movie titles and TV shows to 3-D.

As of right now there is no industry wide standard for 3-D TV.  It is expected that there will be a standard created soon, but for now everyone is on their own.  This can be a little bit of a problem, as differing formats could be problematic for the consumer.  That there are two different types of 3-D glasses can also be a problem, as they aren’t compatible with one another.  This means that if the consumer has an issue with either the glasses or the IR emitter, they have to be careful what they purchase as a replacement, as it may not work if they buy the wrong type.

Whether 3-D TV is just a trend or the new standard for motion pictures, there are some people who are not too keen on this technology.  I find myself in this category somewhat, as I’m not very fond of having to wear the glasses in order to see 3-D movies, even though the images are amazing.  There are other options, such as lasers or lenticules (tiny lenses on the base side of a special film), but the technology has not yet been perfected.  In the mean time, I guess we will just have to put up with those goofy glasses.

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