MAKUHARI, Japan – At CEATEC 2011, Asia’s biggest consumer electronics show held here this week, Toshiba Corp. unveiled two glasses-free 3-D TV models, challenging the current practice of forcing consumers to wear special glasses when watching 3-D TV.
Although many consumer electronics manufacturers, including Sony, are believed to be working on “glasses-less” 3-D TV technologies, all are keeping mum on their progress.
Toshiba decided to steal the 3-D-crazed industry’s thunder at CEATEC, showing 20- and 12-inch glasses-free LCD 3-D TV sets, both scheduled to launch here in December. Toshiba also demonstrated a 56-inch LCD TV prototype that requires no special glasses. Toshiba has no immediate plans to introduce the 56-inch model.
In an interview with EE Times, Yuzo Hirayama, chief research scientist at multimedia laboratory of Toshiba’s corporate R&D center, said: “Our management has decided that there is no reason to keep the fruits of our research results hidden in our lab. If we know it works, they said, we should get it out there as commercial products.” Hirayama has been working on glasses-free 3-D TV technologies since 2005.
The use of a lenticular lens system is a well-understood principal for those who want to build an auto-stereoscopic high-definition 3-D TV that doesn’t need special glasses. That’s exactly what Toshiba did.
To some, 3-D TVs that don’t require glasses is a non-starter since the technology has been plagued with two well-known problems: lousy resolution and limited viewing angle. However, Toshiba claims to have solved some of these problems.
The demonstration showed that Toshiba’s new 3-D TV has a viewing angle of about 40 degrees. If viewers step out of that boundary, they see doubled images on a screen. Hirayama, however, noted that the viewing angle in the conventional glasses-free 3-D TV was about 20 degrees. “We doubled the viewing angle by developing special software to optimize light emission from the center, right and left of the screen.”
Toshiba made two crucial innovations in terms of the resolution delivered by its own glasses-free 3-D TVs: An engineering team developed a special panel technology; and several LSIs designed to do multi-parallax conversion were integrated with Toshiba’s Cell processor engine.
I think jbirch's comments on display headsets for 3D are thought provoking...worthy of attention. However, I think most people will want to use their big-screen TV's in conventional 2D mode most of the time, and only view 3D in movies or special sports broadcasts. I just returned from CES, and saw several glasses-free 3D displays (Sony, etc.). They were not very impressive as the viewer needs to be the right distance and within a fairly narrow angular alignment. LG's passive polarizing glasses were so lightweight and inexpensive - they are almost "throw away", yet the depth of their 3D was great at all viewing positions, and there were no "shimmering" artifacts like the active-shutter 3D glasses technology I saw. So...what I'm saying is that I don't think people will accept big compromises in 2D displays (screen size, resolution, cost) just to occasionally watch 3D content. Therefore, it seems that the relatively simple, low cost, and forgiving yet effective polarized passive-glasses technology of LG seems the best path forward.
If you are going to wear glasses you might as well have the display in the glasses. That way you don't need to make your whole house slave to a huge screen, and the costs of manufacture of a high resolution screen 2 inches across is a lot lower than one 40 inches across. One screen per eye and you have 3d with no angle limitations.
Not that this is great for family interaction, but neither are in-ear headphones.
You could of course make the glasses go transparent when you looked away from the notional "screen" area of your lounge, that way you could look at you family without taking off the glasses.
There is a lot more innovation to be had in making a good, lightweight headset than there is in brute force manufacture of huge screens.
The Toshiba TV uses lenticular lenses (like on the cheap 3d / moving printed images we all knew as kids) so there are N pixels behind each lens and if the viewer sits at the right position he gets a different image to the left and right eyes. But if he sits in the wrong place then the images get mixed. This of course requires the real screen has N times the horizontal resolution - hence the price I suspect.
All of the designs that require a single large screen, whether with glasses or lenticulars, suffer from the user having to have their head vertical in order to see things correctly - not so good for relaxing on the couch! If you use a 3d headset then it does not matter which way up your head is!
Interesting article. If Toshiba can come up with a TV that will not require wearing glasses, I believe that this will be a big hit for the holiday season. Wearing glasses to watch TV? Most families are too busy these days for that. Without the glasses is the way to go
Whenever first HD sets were revealed there were quite aggressive arguments about its future and worth. Now almost all sets produced now are HD compatible. However the most important things which made HD reality were low cost HD video recording systems & digital broadcasting. 3D TV sets are highly pumped in the market besides i dont think its worth to pay lots of money in order to see some films which have some 3D effects. With our without glass that doesnt matter. Still its dam' costy to make 3D effects, or shuting videos. Not so many people are also well educated about how to shut it.
3D TV sets would be marvelous whenever 3D compatible game consoles hit the market. That time it would be really worth to pay huge amounts of $s. Notebooks with 3D displays, hmm to do what, work on 3D excel tables? Again same logic would hit, gaming experience in 3D notebooks.
For mobile sets, there is an research ongoing financed by EU however i dont know if anybody seriously would like to do mass production. Enjoying 3D with limited size not so relevant indeed. However implementing it to portable pads would be great in my view.
Why to focus so much on 3D which would barely make money, and why not concentrating on flexible ultra thin, low power consuming display technologies?
Perhaps the best starter application for this glasses free 3D TV will be in the video gaming industry. Next would be in 3D medical imaging, such as a 3D sonogram that could be seen without glasses.
I do not think it will add much value to main stream entertainment, for which 3D viewing with glasses will continue to provide much better user experience.
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Well, it's just that Toshiba wanted to go public with what they have at their lab. Others being mum doesn't mean they don't have something similar.
Its promising, but quite a lot of work to do from improving the viewing experience to controlling the cost and the market is still warming up to the LCD technology itself.
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