Glasses-less 3-D coming to future TVs

February 23, 2012 // By Dylan McGrath
Future televisions will be smarter, more intuitive and feature even more technically logical advanced displays, according to a panel of experts at the International Solid State Circuits Conference on Tuesday (February 21). Among the technologies that will become more prevalent in coming years are glasses-less 3-D technology and free-viewpoint television (FTV)—a a visual media that allows users to view a 3-D scene by freely changing the viewpoint, as if they were there, panelists said.

"Over the last few years, there have been big changes in mobile phones and communication devices. I think similar changes will happen in television, as well," said David Min, vice president of LG Electronics' software center. "However, I think the changes that will happen in TV will be somewhat different from what has happened in mobile phones."

Min predicted that future TVs would incorporate more "smart" functionality, more connectivity, better quality displays and virtual reality capability.

"Being smart is about providing some connectivity," Min said. "In the old days, the TV was nothing but a medium. But with connectivity, the TV is getting more intelligent."

Several panelists talked about the need for standardization in TV platforms. Min said consumers would decide whether platforms such as Google TV would proliferate.

Yuzo Hirayama, chief research scientist at Toshiba's multimedia laboratory, said the near future of 3-D TV involves glasses-less technology. Toshiba has been selling since 2010 20- and 12-inch 3-D TVs in Japan which do not require glasses, Hirayama said, and recently demonstrated the first "large sized" glasses-less 3-D screen, with a diagonal measure of 55-inches, he said.

Hirayama showed data from DisplaySearch that forecasted that the market for 3-D TVs would grow from under 25 million units and under $3 billion in 2011 to more than 200 million units and nearly $20 billion in 2018.

Also Tuesday, Masayuki Tanimoto, a professor from Japan's Nagoya University, presented information on the latest developments in free-viewpoint television, which uses dozens of cameras to capture 3-D images that users can navigate through any viewpoint to as though they were there. While the technology is still many years away from commercial availability, Tanimoto told the audience that part of Japan's bid for hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup included making FTV of all of the soccer games available. Unfortunately, Japan's bid was not accepted.