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64 TVBEurope News & Analysis

Spec-ulationover glasses-free future

WITH 3D glasses seen as the greatest barrier to 3D viewing outside the cinema, manufacturers are pumping R&D to achieve the ultimate goal of cheap and quality autostereo devices. While it will be several years before we see such screens in the home, take-off is happening in digital signage and will be driven into consumer’s hands via personal devices. That’s because the problems

inherent in delivering a glasses-free 3D experience to more than one viewer are less of an issue when it comes to mobiles, tablets and PC hardware. Indeed Matt Liszt, VP marketing at MasterImage 3D, believes autostereo mobile devices will go mainstream by autumn 2013. “Devices will be shipped glasses-free as standard; they won’t necessarily be marketed as a 3D product,” he predicts. German 3D display developer

SeeFront 3D has seen its technology adopted in Sony’s Vaio SE-series. “We believe that the market for glasses-free 3D will take-off in the personal mobile devices segment as well as in displays in cars and planes and also gaming and gambling machines,” says SeeFront Founder and CEO Christoph Grossmann. Meanwhile, large screen multi-view auto-stereo displays are improving in quality and reducing in price, from £12,500 a couple of years ago to around £5,500 per unit today, to be applied to an increasing range of signage applications.

Signage applications multiply In the US, Travel Plaza TV has rolled out 350 glasses-free screens across its network of service

stations; 3D display developer Tridelity partnered with Ram Active Media to trial live broadcast of the Heineken Cup and Champions League Finals on a 65-inch screen in London; Exceptional 3D has had its 3D displays installed on the gaming floor at Atlantic City casino, Revel; Nike introduced its new Lunar Eclipse footwear into India in March with the help of a 110 xyZ 3D Video Wall supplied by Dutch firm Zero Creative; and cinema advertising agency Pearl & Dean wants to install a glasses- free 3D foyer screen network once it has found a sponsor. “The market is starting to

progress a little faster,” says Eric Angello, CMO and creative director, Exceptional 3D. “It is a disruptive technology because of all the 2D screens out there, but it is also one to which the market will make a logical transition. “A lot of our rivals price each 46-inch display between £4-6,000,” he claims. “We are near half of that and we are literally just on the bubble of making it very competitive for the 2D DS market [like other lenticular panels, Exceptional’s is compatible with 2D content].” The most compelling case for

out of home glasses-free 3D is that the experience attracts eyeballs, increasing dwell time on content comparative to conventional displays. Technologies to achieve

autostereo displays divide into two camps. Parallax barrier technologies typically consists of an electro-optic layer sited over the

DVB 3DTV Phase 2

THE INDUSTRY’S move toward autostereo viewing will be crystallised in the second phase of the DVB’s 3DTV broadcast standard, writes Adrian Pennington. It primarily caters for the needs of content deliverers who need a 2D and 3D version of a programme to be broadcast within the same video signal but includes provision for Multiview Video Coding (MVC) which could potentially handle 15 or more simultaneous views.

The generation after that may

involve multiview in both horizontal and vertical directions and beyond even that perhaps the recording of a continuous object wave passing through a given area. With that we’re into the realm of volumetric or holographic displays which may seem light years away but Japanese broadcaster NHK is already researching the territory. It recently began examining the principles of electronic August 2012

“To get mass market prices we are probably looking at 2015 at the earliest”

Has the market conceded that 3D will never really take off until people do not have to put on special glasses to watch at home? Adrian Penningtoninvestigates the progress towards the autostereo Holy Grail

Christoph Grossmann:

“We believe the market for glasses-free 3D will take- off in the personal mobile devices segment”

nine views the screen actually offers. Bars at the bottom of the screen line up when the viewer is in the optimum position. It also uses a diagonal offset on the lenticular lens which helps to reduce the loss of the 3D effect when a viewer’s head is tilted. “For multi-view screens

freedom of movement is currently limited to a specific zone for each viewer,” says Grossmann. “The main challenge is picture resolution which is dependent on the native screen resolution.” A ‘Full HD’ panel with nine

views results in a picture with SD resolution, for example. A 4K panel (3840 x 2160 pixels) with nine views is able to achieve

“It is a disruptive technology because of all the 2D screens out there, but it’s also one to which the market will make a logical transition”

Eric Angello, Exceptional 3D

screen with a series of precision slits separating the light pathway into images for left and right eyes. It provides a single ‘sweet spot’ which can be augmented with eye- tracking devices and is most suited to single-viewer applications. The most common multi-view method for large screens is to use lenticular lenses which manufacturers bond to the host screen using different techniques. Lenticular lens displays can deliver two viewing modes: multi-view and dual view. Most are capable of generating nine

holography which relies on spatial light modulators to provide ‘unprecedented ultra-high resolutions’ according to the broadcaster. There is a growing body

of opinion which believes that UltraHD television formats such as NHK’s 8K Super Hi-Vision provides more of an immersive, ultra-realistic viewing experience than 3D and that in the medium-term 3D will be sidelined in favour of higher resolutions regardless of whether it is watched with or without eyewear.

views (technology from Dutch firm Dimenco can generate 28) but the gap between each view is not yet seamless and barely HD quality.

Using a nine-view auto-stereo

screen as an example, multi-view mode provides a different perspective at each of the nine sweet spots (just as moving past an object would do in real life), whereas in dual view mode all nine positions deliver the same stereoscopic 3D image that would be seen on a conventional 3D display using active or passive glasses. Outside the sweet spots the 3D

effect is either lost or significantly impaired and CE manufacturers are therefore devising ingenious ways to ensure viewers are in the right position. For instance Toshiba, whose 56-inch home TV can be bought for £7,000, uses a camera to track up to five viewers’ positions and ‘steers’ the image/viewer to deliver the optimal effect. Other solutions include using green circles displayed at the top of the screen to show viewers when they are in one of the sweet spots. Philips employs a technique, described as ‘fractional separation’, to achieve the visual effect of many more than the

a picture roughly equivalent to HD (1280 x 720). “4K displays will push the

price up,” observes Jim Bottoms, director & Co-founder of Futuresource Consulting. “To get mass market prices [for multiview screens] we are probably looking to 2015 at the earliest. Not only must manufacturing costs be reduced to a level where the displays can be sold at a mass- market price, the sets must also be able to deliver a 3D experience equivalent to, or ideally exceeding, the quality of today’s active shutter 3D displays.” He says: “There’s no doubt that all the major CE manufactures perceive the benefit of launching auto-stereo displays that can deliver a picture of acceptable quality for the general consumer at an affordable price point.” Another problem with fixed lenticular lens systems is the loss of screen brightness and the detrimental effect the lenses can have when viewing regular 2D images. Several manufacturing techniques have been employed to address the brightness issue, with varying degrees of success. Avoiding degradation of a 2D image, however, requires far more complex technology. Philips, for example, is experimenting with a

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