LAS VEGAS – LG Electronics has flung the gauntlet at the fledgling 3-D
TV market by citing potential health hazards with active shutter glasses
3-D TV sets. The move unveiled at CES on Wednesday (Jan. 5) is intended to
promote LG’s own newly developed Film Patterned Retarder (FPR) 3-D
Since the commercial 3-D TV rollout last year, the consumer electronics
industry has called the active shutter-glass the best available
technology choice. It’s been promoted almost unanimously by all the
major brands including LG – until now.
Although active shutter glasses-based 3-D TV may have helped the TV
industry kick start a yet-to-blossom 3-D movement (while potentially
harming consumers’ health), it’s now clear that the 3-D technology
battle is far from being settled.
The competition is now moving onto 3-D using passive polarized
technologies; while glasses-free 3-D HDTV also looms on the horizon.
The hottest news at the CES is that LG is betting the farm on film
pattern retarder (FPR). Meanwhile, RealD made a pre-emptive strike here
this week by announcing that the company is teaming up with Samsung to
push yet another 3-D display technology called RDZ. This is also a
passive polarized solution but adopts active shutter technology on the
display. It essentially takes the shuttering technology used in the
glasses and places it in front of the LCD. Toshiba, in contrast, is
pushing glasses-free 3-DTV as previously reported in
Toshiba’s glasses-free 3-D panel: Worth the wait?".
Said Young Soo Kwon, president and CEO of LG Displays: “We believe that
the shutter-glass technology based 3-D TV won’t be successful, because
consumers are concerned about health issues, and it is too costly.” In
contrast, he noted, “Film patterned retarder can offer good quality 3-D
at a reasonable cost.”
LG will stop supplying shutter glass-based 3-D TV “in a short period of
time,” Kwon said. LG will launch FPR-based sets in April.
LG’s decision to bet so big on FPR, while being so vocal at CES about
the potential health problems with current 3-D TVs, hit the industry
with a shock wave. Chris Chinook, president of Insight Media, a market
research firm focused on the emerging segments of the display industry,
called LG’s move “bold, very bold.”
The idea of a “patterned retarder” used in FPR is not new. Pioneered by
Arisawa Manufacturing in Japan, patterned retarder, using a passive
polarizer, delivers 540 lines to the left and right eye, reducing
flicker and crosstalk. However, proponents of competing 3-D technologies
tend to dismiss patterned retarder technology as “half HD, not full
LG’s invention in FPR lies in the replacement of the glass by film. FPR
is said to cost only one quarter of the glass-patterned retarder
technology. With a sizeable investment, LG Display built a plant, tested
its film technology, and is ready for full production, Chinook said.