Companies Race to Bring 3D to Consumers

Washington, DC
VOA News

With the surging popularity of 3D movies, a number of consumer electronic companies are investing heavily to bring the new technology to more people. Although consumer electronic experts say widespread adoption is still five to 10 years away, companies from the U.S. to Japan are betting that consumer demand will soon bring 3D into your living room.

In the latest 3D movie to hit the big screen, prehistoric killer fish practically sink their teeth into cinema audiences.

And with movie goers willing to pay $15 to $20 to watch movies like Piranha 3D - a number of companies are betting people will want to experience the same thrill at home.

In California's Silicon Valley, graphics technology company Nvidia is developing a device that brings the 3D experience to your home computer. 3D Division chief Phil Eisler, says its special glasses can deliver high resolution 3D by blinking rapidly to bring a different image to each eye.

"Nvidia has pursued the active shutter glasses, what's called the sequential frame 120 Hz method so that the glasses here will open left and right at 60 Hz per eye. Then a laptop such as this Toshiba 3D laptop - the screen will work at 120 Hz and display left and right so you get a true stereoscopic 3D image, with full resolution and full color per eye," he said.

Nvidia adds it's a big improvement from the old red and green cardboard glasses.

Although companies are experimenting with different methods to simulate 3D, marketing expert John Peddie says the advantage of Nvidia's system is that it works with games that were not designed with 3D in mind. "So the game developer doesn't have to do anything. The game developer can say, here's my game, enjoy it. You can enjoy it in 2D in an old monitor which is 60 Hz, or with the aid of the Nvidia stereo system you can enjoy it in 3D with their glasses and their sensor and their magic secret formula software," Peddie said.

But some companies are looking beyond. Sony and Toshiba are developing competing technologies to do away with glasses altogether.

Sony Home Entertainment Division chief Yoshihisa Ishida says the company hopes to be first, but he says a launch date has not been set. "Once all the technical elements are ready, I think the ultimate shape of 3D TVs should be the one watchable without the glass, as it is easier," he said. "But before we reach that stage, we will have to solve the technical matters as well as the price issue."

But home 3D will not come cheap. Upgrading a computer using Nvidia's system will cost about $600, with glasses priced about $200 apiece.

3D-capable TVs that require glasses already sell between $3,000 to $5,000. Without the glasses - a fantasy world that looks so real you can almost touch it - will almost certainly cost more.

© VOA News

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