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Will glasses-free 3D finally take off in 2014?
AFP
December 26, 2013
First Published: 11:31 IST(26/12/2013)
Last Updated: 15:56 IST(26/12/2013)

A number of companies will be pushing the technology and its features at next month's International CES in the hopes of reigniting interest in 3D, a feature that many consumers feel is simply a fad.

Just like ultra-high-definition, glasses-free 3D TV is nothing new and there were a number of TV sets capable of delivering both at last year's International CES.

However, the signs are that 2014 is going to be the year in which companies really try to press the technology and its advantages in order to win over skeptical consumers.

Chief among these will be Stream TV Networks, a company that has pioneered something called Ultra D, a proprietary technology -- i.e., one integrated into other manufacturers' devices -- that not only offers glasses-free, ultra-high definition 3D on TVs, but can be integrated into PC monitors and tablets too.

What's more the company has a supporting technology that can automatically convert 2D to 3D.

It debuted the technologies last year but will be displaying a much more advanced version at this year's event.

Also hoping to impress consumers is US firm IZON which will be showcasing 32-inch, 47-inch and 55-inch ultra-high-definition sets with its own glasses-free 3D technology (which it co-developed with Dolby) built in.

Both companies promise that their technology is easy to use and won't cause eye strain and that the viewing angle is wide enough (150°) that everyone gathered around the set has the same experience.

However, despite the initial fanfare, 3D TV, with or without glasses, has so far failed to take hold or to capture the consumer's imagination, beyond gaming and 3D design applications, that is.

In July, the BBC, one of the world's biggest and most influential television broadcasters, announced it was abandoning plans to continue creating and broadcasting content in 3D.

The organization had been experimenting with the format since 2011 but had been hugely disappointed with consumer uptake. For example, the 2012 Summer Olympics Opening Ceremony was broadcast in 3D yet only attracted 750,000 viewers despite being the single most popular broadcast on UK TV in the history of viewing figures (51. 9 million people tuned in for some part of the broadcast). And this is also despite the fact that the overwhelming majority of new HD TVs have integrated 3D with glasses features as standard.

The BBC's head of 3D, Kim Shillinglaw, said she believed 3D has so far failed to take off because it is not a straightforward process. "Watching 3D is quite a hassly experience in the home. You have got to find your glasses before switching on the TV. I think when people watch TV they concentrate in a different way. When people go to the cinema they go and are used to doing one thing -- I think that's one of the reasons that take-up of 3D TV has been disappointing."

Perhaps not needing to reach for the glasses for a truly immersive experience might change all of that.


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