3D televisions conquer the mass market

Sony 3D Monitor

Sony 3D Monitor

CeBIT 2011 has opened in Hanover, and on the occasion of the most important event in the digital sector with the widest international reach we are highlighting one of the main topics of the trade fair: 3D technology in televisions.

For the human eye, three-dimensional perception is a completely natural part of everyday life. Our eyes capture images from various angles and in a fraction of a second our brain then calculates a distance from the difference between the impressions – and this happens many thousands of times every day. The process is necessary in order to enable us to grasp hold of objects or to deal appropriately with traffic situations, for example.

3D found its way into the industry sector long ago, e.g. in the form of three-dimensional simulations and models. If the experts are to be believed, the mass market – in other words the entertainment industry – is now finally following this example: although the number of 3D films currently on offer is still relatively small and only technology freaks are at present equipping their home cinema systems with the latest 3D technology, in the opinion of the American management consulting firm DisplaySearch, this will soon change.

The market researchers explain that with decreasing prices and the considerably increased amount of content available, the technology will soon experience “massive growth”. According to their forecasts, as early as in 2014 more than 90 million 3D televisions worldwide will be sold – that is about 40 per cent of all flat-screen TVs sold.

No more red-green glasses

TV programmes and films with a spatial effect of depth when watched through red-green glasses on colour televisions should then be past history, together with the confusing double-images and pale colours that are an unattractive side-effect of 3D vision with colour-filter glasses. Even polarising-filter glasses or shutter glasses such as those in cinemas should not be necessary in future. These glasses enable entirely passable 3D imagery to be experienced in your own living room even today – although many people still find it annoying to wear such bulky things on their nose.

In order to spare the viewer the annoyance of wearing 3D glasses and still offer stereoscopic pictures, more sophisticated 3D televisions are required. Even though this is still a long way off, the auto-stereoscopic displays needed here are already available. They work with various technologies: one way of producing three-dimensional images involves cameras fitted in the screen that follow the eyes of the viewer and continually adapt the viewing angle of the displayed image. The second significant technology uses a parallax barrier, a see-through layer with slits. Each slit is positioned over two pixel columns. In this way, one eye only sees the first row of pixels from its viewing angle, and the other eye only sees the second row. Professional applications usually combine viewing angle detection and the parallax technology.

Both Sharp and Toshiba have already enjoyed considerable success with 3D technology – it will be interesting to see what they will present to the trade fair public in Hanover.

Enter the world of 3D

Those who are unwilling to wait for the day when glasses-free 3D television becomes affordable for general consumers, or those who are planning to buy a television in any case and are not bothered by the necessary glasses, can enter the world of three-dimensional evening entertainment with a good feeling and a 3D model for around 1,000 to 1,500 euros. 2D operation is naturally also possible with these televisions. The 3D effect is more spectacular with bigger screens/TVs. As a rough guide, the screen diagonal of a 3D television should be about half the distance between the screen and the viewer. In other words, if you are sitting on the sofa about three metres from the television, the recommended screen diagonal would be roughly 130 centimetres.

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