I haven’t come across anyone who has, and my question is “why the heck would anyone go to the trouble?”
3DTV was all the rage at the recent Consumer Electronics Show; just about every TV manufacturer was desperately pushing their version of 3D.
The variations on the technology are baffling, some have active glasses, some have passive glasses, there are disposable glasses and Toshiba now has a “no glasses” version. Pricing is all over the place—depending upon the implementation—with larger screens selling for around $5,000 in the U.S.
But the confusion and expense of the hardware is not the problem. The lack of content will keep this technology from catching on. There was not a single 3D content agreement announced at CES this month, so what chance do the manufacturers have?
3DTV is a technology looking for an application, a common occurrence in electronics. Just because we can do something with an invention doesn’t mean the world needs it. (This is fruitful territory for a later blog; think Talking lights).
3DTV has been around for a long time; EE Times Editor Junko Yoshida of EE Times has been writing about it since the early 2000s. Rick Merritt (also of EE Times) wrote a great piece last year after CES on how it will take time for the technology, content and standards to shake out, and it’s still in flux.
Echoes of the past
All this reminds me of my weekend high school job at a stereo store. We had a quadraphonic system from (I think) Pioneer, which was on demo. Everyone wanted to hear it and play with the joystick that controlled the speaker sound field. But we only had one disc (yes, vinyl) that was true quadraphonic so that issue with content repeats itself today.
That Pioneer system was on demo for a year and didn’t sell.
Just to make sure my prejudices weren’t clouding reality I took a field trip to a local Best Buy electronics superstore to check out the latest offerings and it was underwhelming.
A demo for the Panasonic Viera was out of order, the Sony demo with active glasses was working but made the 3D image seem very artificial and even a little forced. Samsung had an interesting bundle with a Blu-ray player and a sound bar at a very attractive price but there were no glasses for a demo and no 3D content running on the screen.
Of all the TVs on display, the 3D versions make up a very small percentage. I didn’t see anyone looking at them, and the usually tenacious sales staff left me alone. Interestingly, Best Buy just announced an insurance program protecting buyers against TV obsolescence with a 50% trade in value (there is a catch though), so even Best Buy thinks the confusion over 3D is crimping sales.
Why is all this important from a semiconductor perspective? A third of all ICs are consumed by 10 companies. These are mainly consumer electronics companies, so the impact of sales of TVs has a huge impact on our industry.
3D TV is never going to be a real driver of semi sales in 2011 or even 2012 because the value proposition just isn’t there for consumers; I doubt it will ever come.
As I was leaving Best Buy with my kids (who were more interested in games and the Kinect by the way) we saw George Lucas walking in, maybe he was going to check 3D out as well?
David Blaza is senior vice president of UBM Electronics (the company that publishes EE Times and EDN). David has over 20 years of sales, marketing, and publishing experience in the technology sector working for companies as diverse as IBM, Motorola, Mars Electronics, CMP and now United Business Media. He is a graduate of the University of Bradford, England (BS, Materials Science) and the University of Stirling, Scotland (MS in Economics & Technology).
I didn't catch the glasses-free Toshiba 3D at CES, but Sony's little 22.5 inch no-glasses 3D display was impressive. I could still see the 3D effect and no double image from about a 45 degree angle to either side.
But I agree with your conclusion that 3D is a non-starter, at least for the next few years. It suffers from many of the same issues we faced with HDTV in the early years -- lack of content and high equipment prices.
I first saw HD content on an HD display in 1997, but I did not personally buy an HDTV until 2004. I don't know if the lag time will be as long for me to take the 3D plunge, or if the price premium for 3D without glasses will ever be low enough to compel me to make a purchase.
The transition from standard def to high-def was revolutionary, but the same cannot be said for the transition (if indeed it is a transition) from 2D to 3D.
Nice to see that someone in the industry has the guts to say that the 3D emperor has no clothes,that it is a "solution" to a problem the customers don't seem to think they have, that's it's really more of a whipped-up marketing push than a needed or useful product.
You may be barred from next year's CES....
@BicycleBill: if one is barred from the future CES shows, there is always the blackjack table! (:0
I think many posters have pointed rightfully the lack of content that elevate consumer experience. I would add lack of standards to the top of the list. There are already a multitude of 3D TV versions that are popping up that make it confusing to the customer. Ergonomics and consumer safety is another concern that needs to be addressed (see @iniewski's post).
I suppose I will grow old waiting for that holographic projection TV! That to me is truly 3D. My kids genuinely believe experiencing a star-trek like holodeck isn't that far off!
Dr. MP Divakar
The basic problem is that the experience just isn't worth the trouble.
With ordinary 2-D movies, everyone PERCEIVES depth anyway; we watch the action and see things as though in depth. There isn't any need for physical 3-dimensional images. What causes us to like a movie is the plot, the screenplay, and the acting -- and none of these requires physically real depth. As for other forms of entertainment, who cares whether actors sitting around on a talk show are three-dimensional or not?
It's the same with the Sunday funnies: Cartoons are ridiculously unrealistic; but, we understand the activities depicted frame-by-frame in grossly unphysical 2-D, and we read them anyway.
My take is that:
Consumer 3D was at a serious mood at CES-2011 to say the least. Brushing it off on various grounds would be a mistake.
When a 3D camera is available under $500, 3D is certainly poised to take off. It is the user and their own contents that is gonna rule while professional grade 3D contents are in the making. Just think, how much time does an average user spend on youtube vs. TV these days? ...hope you see what I am pointing to.
3D is at a great beginning, I think. With this we have a great opportunity of innovation. Let us get serious folks!!!
I really like the analogy to quadraphonic sound systems. It's here, it works, people like it BUT it's expensive, there's little content and there's incompatibility problems. Likewise, I expect it to go away, people laugh at how the ridiculus the idea was and it will come back in 20 years, like surround sound.
A large problem with 3D is that too often the technology drives the content with the story being, at best, secondary. 3D has to come to the point where it is just there, part of the background (and foreground I guess)and you are so involved with the story you no longer pay attention to the 3D.
I've heard, however, the 3D sports is a lot of fun, especially golf (go figure). The SuperBowl has sold thousands of big-screen TVs, maybe it will kick-off 3D sales (sorry for the pun, it just kind of fell off my fingers).
I think 3D-TV has larger problems than lack of content...I tried a few systems and I get dizzy...quite unpleasant and unnatural experience...I highly doubt I am special so there must millions people like me who will not ever buy it...I think it is a classic of "let's build it and they will come"...Kris
I'm with you on that, I avoid 3D at the theatres because I get headaches. Also the picture doesn't seem as sharp. Strangely enough the kids of today don't care about discomfort or lack of quality of content and/or image, just about geewiz and wow factors. I think if it was up to the over 25's 3D would never take off, (like it didn't in the 50's & 60's) but if it's up to the under 25's it's anybody's guess.
The 3D projection of scenes or films will come a day using holographical techniques. The images will be projected in a space in front of us. That is real 3D. But what ever is done on a LCD panel or a screen of 2 dimensions is not a 3D
I'm not so sure 3DTV will quickly die out, as long as studios are seriously committed to quality 3D production. The concept of 3D cinema has (thankfully) evolved away from the 50's fad of "Ha, Ha, made you duck..." gimmickry. A well made 3D film should not have its story line "3D-ized", but should, as Bob V suggests, provide a sense of realism, as if it's physically happening right there in front of you. One could argue that 2D cinema already does very well with various moving camera shots that reveal parallax, giving the viewer a strong sense of 3D depth. HDTV enhances that effect when displaying Hi-def material since very fine parallax shift is not lost.
Another factor that may keep 3D out of the "non-starter" bin relates to the current HDTV market. One relatively recent enhancement to HDTV that provides enhanced realism (the noble goal of 3D) is enhanced frame-rate (120/240 Hz) motion smoothing, which, done well, renders a realism that, I think, is as effective as 3D. The bonus is that it works on any existing material; no need to synthesize a second eye channel to create fake 3D from 2D material. It's amazing to watch old 40-50's B/W films in particular; you'd swear they were shot in 60-field/sec video. Anyway, luckily for the 3D industry, the display technology advancement that made frame rate doubling possible, is also key to present glasses based 3D which relies on a 2D display panel with very fast pixel response. What this means is that the initial premium charged for 3D sets can rapidly deflate towards the price of 2D sets, which then potentially gives buyers a sub-$200 2D/3D decision point. The only thing that could mess this all up is a 3D display format war (shutters VS bi-color VS polarization VS no glasses VS ...?).
This is the kind of backward thinking I would expect from a luddite, not an engineer. Yes, I agree completely that there is a big chicken-and-egg problem; on the other hand, while quadrophonic didn't win at the time, I have a 6.1 speaker system on my home theater amplifier and I'm VERY happy with it - and lots of people now have such systems because most DVDs include at least 5.1 audio (yes, that's 5 channels, which is more than quad). We needed the increased capacity and throughput of digital processing to make quality multichannel audio affordable. Now that we have even more capacity, we can do multichannel video too.
The biggest problem I see with the current 3DTV systems is the incremental cost of viewing. If you need special glasses, especially the active expensive ones, you can't invite others over to watch TV together. The typical "Come on over and watch the game" just doesn't work if you have a limited set of glasses.
I also agree with other posters that I don't need 3D all the time; but then, I didn't need a 52" widescreen all the years I was growing up either. Heck, we didn't even have COLOR TV until I was in high school. Our kids never knew a time when VCRs and time-shifting didn't exist, or you couldn't choose what movie to watch; maybe our grandkids will wonder how anyone enjoyed the old flatscreen shows.
Well I have a 3D TV and I like it even with the glasses. The biggest problem right now is that there is very little worthwhile content. I can't wait for Star Wars 3D!
It has been a long long time since I was on the bleeding edge and it was time to upgrade my system anyway so it was only the incremental cost to upgrade to 3D.
My Apple II+ cost more than my 3D setup and it was paid for in real $$.
I sold 3D displays in early 2000. They were produce by a company in Australia using two layers of glass slightly shifted. A 15” unit was over $5000. Today cost are dropping.
I recently purchase an LG LED 55” 240HZ 3D TV for around $2100, MSRP$3500, but they included 4 Pairs of glasses, a 32” Plasma TV, and the new Fiji W3 3D camera (this is a truly innovative product). So with that type of offer even as a 2D, it made sense. With prices like this the cost difference was worth it. I’m always into Bleeding Edge technology, but this is the first time I have ever paid for it.
I see 3D a little different. It is true it is in its infancy but standards have been established. The content will come as so many films like Tron are coming out in 3D. The real concern is over the technology battle, Glasses vs. No Glasses. Some see this as a VHS / Bata battle, I see it as more of a Plasma / LED battle. This is because regardless of the display the DVD will be the same, just processed differently by the display. Once this is clear to the studios, I expect to see more content.
The one caveat I see with 3D is that content will be limited to areas that 3D can make a difference. Expect to see action, animation, sports, and nature/travel shows and movies to lead the way all in HD. I don’t expect to see the same numbers of broadcast channels 3D like HD. It is more likely to a sub set of HD including channels such as ESPN (already broadcasting) National Geographic, Discovery, Si-Fi, and a movie channel (already on air) to lead the way.
I think we have a long way to go to squeeze image quality out of HDTV before we start looking for a richer experience in 3D. 1) Many TV networks are not broadcasting in HD yet. 2) The cable companies and HD set-top boxes compress the heck out of the image so while you're technically getting a 720p or 1080i picture, you're also getting a lot of compression artifacts. 3) Many LCD TVs still blur during fast motion or have trouble achieving high contrast ratio. 240Hz refresh and LED backlights are helping with this last point.
Content is coming. The BCS (?) college championship game was presented in 3D. Imagine the advantage of seeing instant replays on challenged calls in football games in 3D. Could be a literal game changer. I understand that there may be at least one NASCAR race in 3D this year. I'm thinking pic crew helmet cam and in-car cams here. I notice that MANY of the new movies coming out will be in 3D.
I haven't bought a tube for it yet, but my old 32 inch CRT TV is getting long in the tooth and I'm looking pretty hard at the Sony HX800 55 inch LED LCD 3D HD (too many "D"s) which is currently on sale for $1619 - $1800, depending on where you buy it. My company gets a Sony discount, so it's a good bargain right now.
Sure, I'll have to upgrade my satellite to HD, and will likely buy a Playstation to play the BluRay discs, as well as adding the 3D setup, but those items can come over time. I'm looking forward to it. The price of the active glasses is starting to come down and I suspect tthat before too long they will be quite reasonable, just as anything else in consumer electronics.
Since Sony owns one of the big movie studios, I expect to see a lot of content in the near future.
The comparison to Quadraphonic sound is apt. Yes, it did come back as Surround Sound 20 years later, but our music CDs are still not in surround sound, and even though I just purchased a 55" TV, I have no plans to wire my living room for rear channel sound.
I think compression artifacts will sabotage the 3D material for years to come, and for many people the "focus distance versus perception distance" will cause strain when viewing. As since I wear strong eyeglasses, sticking active 3D viewing glasses on top will not be comfortable enough to "just immerse myself and forget the technology".
I must agree with DutchUncle. This article is quite pessimistic. The industry obvious sees that the market is viable, and to say that there is too little content is definitely not very forward-thinking. I believe there were many saying that about HDTV not so long ago.
What appears to drive the market (at least from my observation) for new technologies is the cost to the buyer. The cost for a 3D television has dropped significantly over the past year and the broadcast content (what little there currently is available) is being included in the HD packages from the service providers. If that trend continues as more content (channels) are offered, then the adding 3D capability for the buyer can be done with an incremental added cost.
Many manufacturers are creating package deals with 3D Blu-ray players and movies (and extra 3D glasses) in an attempt to move more 3D televisions. Several movies are being released for 3D Blu-ray too. The content is starting to grow at a quick pace. It's just a matter of momentum and a little time.
The big fault of 3D TV is that it offers very little advantage to any except the sellers of 3D equipment. It is a fairly useless product desperately hoping to find a market, which will be a bunch of people fast-talked into purchasing "the latest thing". Most of those who tell us how wonderful it is are those who will profit from it, that is what I see presently. Not to forget that the lack of content is quite a drag, as well. Really, it is a waste of talent, effort, and materials. We just don't need it.
This company from Perth, Western Australia has been working on 2D to 3D conversion for years:
(In case the forum removes that link, search for "DDD" and their "Tridef Realtime 3D".)
Dunno what all the fuss is about. The forensic crime labs have had true 3d for ages, to the extent that they can even rotate the image in all directions. Just watch shows like CSI.
It's not real?
But it's on TV, it must be real
The success of 3D TV relies not on how it attract you to watch it, but how to make you a part of the scene.
Think this is super-bowl, we couch potatoes feel like sitting in the stadium, or even run along with Payton Manning, that's fantastic!
When TV's can display standard HD TV and with a push of a button convert to a 3D TV and be viewed without glasses, the market will explode. People want simplicity and will pay extra for the technology if it's easy to use. Apple's products are a good example.
3D hardware adds nothing to movie viewing and is more of a distraction and irritation than anything. We perceive depth by so many means that the current 3D technology is unnecessary. I don't go to the theatre until they show the non-3D version. I hope this trend dies before it gets going because I really am not going to wear 3D glasses and pay extra money to watch a dim movie that gives me a head ache even if that's all they show. I'll find other recreation if 3D becomes all that is available.
As someone pointed out in another post, it doesn't matter which brand of 3D TV you buy based whatever display technology, the content layer is common to all of them. That said, I would choose a high def LED based projector over a 3D system any day. Crisp crystal clear HD beats 3D hands down. Just sit in on a OmniMax film and you'll see what I mean.
this thread just keeps on going!! USA today had a reader poll on 3D TV today and here are the results: 94% of 7,274 are unlikely to buy
How likely are you to purchase a 3D TV in 2011?
Vote TOTAL VOTES: 7274
seems to support my view but I've been wrong before!
I have been criticised here for being too pessimistic about 3DTV so just to give you the other side of the story a research firm called Future Source says 15 million 3DTV's will sold in the US by the end of 2012 but again I don't believe it unless there is a massive uptick in 3D contnet and a glasses free technology that looks really good. The article is on CNET by Don Reisinger if you want to go to the source:
Within the movie production industry, many think that 3D will happily continue as a separate strand alongside 2D movies. After all, animated features come in stop-frame, CG and traditional hand-drawn cartoon variants. Some perfectly good 2D movie ideas will no doubt be ruined in production by a studio deciding to make them in 3D.
In the same way, 2D TV viewing will be degraded because the mandatory 3D set will produce a worse picture than an equivalent priced 2D set.
But will anyone care?
Many cheap hi-fis will give you noisy stereo FM on poor signals when on mono quieting would be much cleaner.
I've seen enough 3D movies at this point. Additional experience: small to none. Some CG movies are ok; live action stuff: why bother? The only reason we are seeing a spate of 3D stuff is that (a) Barco projectors in commercial theatres throw 3D with little additional cost, and technically the presentation is excellent; and (b)consumer display manufacturers have smelled blood, and want the market. But 3D has been periodically revived about every 10 to 20 years since oh, let's see, 1860? It has a niche, but that seems to be about it. Time will tell. So, how many people have shelled out for these things so far?
David Patterson, known for his pioneering research that led to RAID, clusters and more, is part of a team at UC Berkeley that recently made its RISC-V processor architecture an open source hardware offering. We talk with Patterson and one of his colleagues behind the effort about the opportunities they see, what new kinds of designs they hope to enable and what it means for today’s commercial processor giants such as Intel, ARM and Imagination Technologies.