• News
  • Columns
  • Interviews
  • BW Communities
  • Events
  • BW TV
  • Subscribe to Print
  • Editorial Calendar 19-20
BW Businessworld

Third World

Photo Credit :

Next time you watch a David Beckham free kick, find cover. The kick will hit you head on, and your grey matter will take a while to realise that you are watching the match on 3D. Coming soon are 3D telecasts: several sporting events, including the Football World Cup, will be broadcast in 3D. ESPN and Discovery Channel are also planning full 3D channels, whereas Sky TV is planning to broadcast 3D content in a few months.
This week, three leading television manufacturers — Sony, Panasonic and Samsung — announced the launch of 3D television sometime this year. They will be available in developed markets in a few months, and in Asia as well. Also coming are 3D Blue-ray players. Television is thus beginning the process of converting to 3D, a process that will take about a decade or more to complete. Hollywood will release several 3D movies this year. But all this would come at a cost. 3D television would cost about $3,000, and it will need expensive glasses (at $150) too, at least in its early years. Each television brand might need separate glasses as well.
How 3D TV Works
We see things around us in 3D because each eye gets a slightly different image. The brain processes these images into one composite three-dimensional vision. 3D televisions also try to deliver slightly different images to each eye, but the way this is achieved can differ. One technology, called active shutter technology, uses rapidly alternating images (120 images a second) on screen, and glasses with shutters filter these images so that only one eye sees one image at a time.
Another technology uses polarised glasses to filter the two different images projected by the television. A third one uses lenses on the screen to achieve a 3D effect, and they require no glasses. However, this method has a drawback. The 3D effect — or any kind of clear image — is possible within a distance of a few metres, and also to view in a certain way. 3D televisions to be sold this year will need glasses to be worn.
Special Players And Broadcasts
Going from regular television quality to high-definition required high-density optical devices, because the data to be stored increased dramatically. Going from high definition to 3D also means a similar increase in the amount of data to be stored; high definition images for each eye separately, and also the code to interpret this data. Fortunately, Blue-ray players already have this capability, but they require additional hardware: special microprocessors to interpret and pass this information to a 3D television. 
Similarly, we also need special broadcasts, but companies such as Sky TV in the UK have purportedly achieved this over the existing network. Sky will have a dedicated 3D channel this year, and ESPN will also start 3D broadcasts of sporting events this year. However, 3D television content will continue to be limited for a few years.
(This story was published in Businessworld Issue Dated 22-03-2010)

Tags assigned to this article:
magazine techtalk samsung sony panasonic 3d television