SAN JOSE, Calif. In a wide range of demos, companies will claim at the Consumer Electronics Show in January that stereoscopic 3D is ready for the home. In fact engineers face plenty of work hammering out the standards and silicon for 3DTV products, most of which will ship for the holiday 2010 season.
Hollywood studios are driving 3D to the home as a way to make more money on a growing number of successful 3-D titles at the theater ranging from "Avatar" to "Up." A standards effort launched in June to define a content format for stereo 3D movies was one of the first major actions in this direction.
Much more is still ahead. Observers expect many demos at CES of 3DTV sets using content from stereo-3D enabled Blu-ray players, thanks to a newly minted Blu-ray spec for stereo 3D. However most of the players and many of the TVs will not be available until later in the year when new chips for the spec are available.
Beyond the Blu-ray effort, multiple standards and chips based on them are still in progress. The latest is an upgrade of the HDMI interface that will pave a way for future stereo 3D broadcasts to be available on new and existing HDMI links.
The HDMI Licensing group is adding support to its version 1.4 spec for the top/bottom format that many broadcasters are expected to use. The format squeezes information about left and right eye images on to a single frame to save bandwidth, albeit at a loss of some resolution.
An HDMI implementation of the top/bottom format will be defined in meeting of the group in January. "I have been told by the technical team that this is not a hard exercise," said Steve Venuti, president of HDMI Licensing LLC.
"When we launched 1.4 in June, we did not launch a mandatory format for broadcasters because we were not sure where broadcasters would go," said Venuti. "Since then, we've been polling anyone who might have a take on this and what came across was they wanted to implement top/bottom which we did not put in 1.4," he said.
The HDMI group has talked to CableLabs, DirecTv and content companies including HBO about the changes for stereo 3D. Venuti said he did not know whether the new format will require changes to HDMI 1.4 silicon already in the works.