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.