One of the emerging technologies on the market for home viewing is 3D TV. Most consumers are unaware of the inherent technology behind 3D television, leaving many to wonder, “how does 3d tv work?” Close to all of the television manufacturers have some form of 3D TV technology on the market, in various screen sizes. The most common 3D technologies for delivering the stereoscopic images to viewers are:
- Anaglyphic 3D
- Polarization 3D
- Alternate frame sequencing
- Autostereoscopic display
Anaglyphic 3D viewing is accomplished by the viewer wearing passive red and cyan lens glasses to see the images in three dimensions. Polarization 3D viewing transmits the images to viewers who are able to see in three dimensions by wearing passive polarized lens glasses. Alternate frame sequencing requires the wearing of glasses with lenses that include active shutters that allow the viewer to see traditionally two dimensional images in three dimensions. The shutters open and close depending on which eye the image needs to be seen in to make it 3D.
Autostereoscopic displays, or auto 3D, relies on transmitting images to the viewer in 3D without the viewer needing to wear specialized glasses to see the effects. There are two individual technologies associated with auto 3D, head-tracking and multiple view transmission. Head-tracking keeps a location on where the viewer is looking to ensure each eye is seeing a different image in order to transmit a picture in three dimensions. This is different from the multiple view transmission method of delivering 3D images does not need to know where the viewer’s eyes are directed in order to transmit images in three dimensions.
The head-tracking method of transmitting images is generally not considered commercially viable as it limits the number of people who can view a display in three dimensions. Head-tracking, to date, only allows a single viewer to see the display in proper three dimensions. Multiple view technology is considered more commercially viable, as it allows multiple viewers to see the same image in three dimensions, regardless of where they are sitting in relation to the display.
Multi-view capture technology, which is used to film movies and television in 3D, utilizes an array of many cameras to capture images for redistribution into a multiple view format. Televisions currently on the market that utilize 3D capability, in addition to traditional 2-D viewing, generally include an Ethernet connection, USB capable player or recorder and Wi-Fi connectivity. They work in conjunction with a set-top box and LCD shutter glasses, which allows the viewer to see images on the screen in three dimensions as opposed to the traditional two.
Throughout the summer of 2010 and into the new year, manufacturers are making 3D capable television set available for $2,500 or less. There is new technology emerging on the market, which is currently only available in China, that does not require the viewer to wear special glasses. It utilizes autostereoscopic, or auto 3D technology, and currently sells for approximately $20,000. As the technology for autostereoscopy develops in the US, the price should come down to a range equivalent to television sets that currently require special viewing glasses.
There really isn’t any magic to how does 3D TV work. As the technology continues to evolve, we can prepare to be continually surprised by the new possibilities it brings us.