While there has been talk of this since CES 2011, RealD and Samsung jointly announced their licensing agreement for full resolution per eye polarized technology. While this is being promoted as the greatest thing since sliced bread, it’s actually very old technology!
The Stereographics Z-Screen was first announced in July, 1997 and worked in three stages:
1. The display alternates a left/right view very quickly.
2. In front of the panel, there is a polarizer that twists the light at two wavelengths in cooperation with the television’s display.
3. Polarized glasses filter the alternate left/right views without any active parts.
This is a similar concept to shutter glasses, except instead of the mechanics or work being mostly handled by the glasses, the left/right blocking and synchronization is happening on the display itself. The advantages behind this are that it’s easier for several people to don glasses, the 3D image should theoretically be brighter, and for the glasses at least – it should be cheaper. Mind you, nobody knows what the price of these displays will be, so they can easily out-price the shutter glasses options.
While Stereographics was acquired by RealD Cinema in 2005, we don’t see this technology’s availability as being limited to Samsung and/or RealD. Modern examples of this for the consumer market were first demonstrated by LG Electronics at the Society of Information Display in 2009 with a 23” panel:
“In conventional 3D viewing, the technology is equally located in the Display and the viewing Glasses. The 3D glasses create a third dimension to the human eye by making the left and the right eyes see different perspective of the same image. This is done by alternatively shutting off their left and right lenses. It is like viewing an object by alternatively blinking your eyes. This uniform high speed shutting of lenses is what makes the 3D glasses quite expensive.
LG claims to have solved this problem by embedding a major part of the 3D technology into the Display. The time-sequential technology which was earlier built into the 3D glasses now resides on the Display itself. With this new Display, 3D glasses are still required.” – LG Electronics Press Release
It’s unclear if RealD’s patent is defendable given LG’s earlier demonstrations, so it’s unlikely that Samsung or RealD will be able to hold on to an exclusive very long. There are already competing products in projection too – Lightspeed has a similar add-on option for their DepthQ projectors, for example.
We will have to wait and see how the industry unfolds. Samsung/RealD panels are expected to be available for PC monitors in 23″ and 27″ sizes by early 2012, and for TVs in 55″ size after the availability of PC monitors. It will be interesting to see if these displays are marketed as industry products first to maximize their upfront premiums, or if the Samsung/RealD duo are willing to swim in the competitively priced consumer markets. Time will tell!
One thing that is very interesting is that Jim Cameron is directly attached to the product and serves on RealD’s Board of Directors. It would be interesting to learn just how invested he is. He used to do the talking for Panasonic.
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