3D Glasses Standard Aimed at Boosting TV Sales

Adam Dickter, <a href='http://www.newsfactor.com'>newsfactor.com</a>

More consumers will be able to grab glasses and pop over to a friend's house for a 3D movie, even if they have a different-brand TV set, under an agreement announced Monday by TV makers Samsung, Sony and Panasonic and glasses vendor X6D Limited.

The foursome will collaborate on the development of a new technology standard for consumer glasses in a project called the Full HD 3D Glasses Initiative.

Not Just TV

The goal is to license radio-frequency and infrared-system 3D active-glasses technology for televisions, personal computers, projectors and 3D theaters with XPAND active shutter glasses. The systems will use protocols developed jointly by Panasonic and X6D's XPAND as well as by Samsung and Sony.

The target to release the license is September, after which the joint project will begin developing new standardization-applied active 3D glasses that will be available some time next year. They will be backward compatible with 3D units currently on the market.

The unique agreement between rivals represents a giant step in the industry toward further driving adoption of 3D TVs. Shipments of 3D-equipped liquid-crystal-display units rose 104 percent in the first quarter compared to the same quarter last year, according to a June report by the research firm DisplaySearch.

However, a March survey by ABI Research found that nearly 40 percent of respondents said they have no interest in a 3D-ready TV. Just eight percent said they are considering the purchase of a 3D-ready TV within the next six months.

"Panasonic has been working to standardize 3D glasses technologies, and in March we announced a joint licensing of IR system protocols with XPAND, backed by several participant companies," said Masayuki Kozuka, a media manager at Panasonic. "We are very pleased that today's latest collaboration will incorporate our previous concept into these new standardization efforts. We hope the expanded collaboration on this 3D standardization initiative will make a significant contribution toward accelerating the growth of 3D-related products."

Added Samsung Vice President Jurack Chae, "To date, active 3D technology has proven to be the most popular choice for consumers in the 3D TV market. According to the NPD Group, active 3D technology took an average 96 percent share of the U.S. 3D TV market in the first half of this year; and this Full HD 3D Glasses Initiative will help further drive consumer adoption and understanding of active 3D -- the technology that provides the clearest and most immersive 3D experience available."

Are Consumers Ready?

While some companies are already striving toward glasses-free 3D devices -- such as Nintendo's 3DS handheld game player and Toshiba's 3D television -- it's likely that glasses will be around for a while.

"Glasses-free 3D is still developing and struggling with quality, viewing angles, etcetera," said Jason Blackwell, digital home director for ABI Research. "So far it has had the most success at the small screen sizes for mobile phones and gaming."

But even with better, interchangeable glasses, Blackwell said the potential of 3D as a premium driver is in doubt.

"Most 3D HDTV purchases seem to be driven by other features, specifically screen size, price, display technology, refresh rate, and Internet connectivity," he said. "In addition, many of the current 3D-ready models have been discounted significantly and/or additional incentives have been offered, including a free Blu-ray player, free glasses, and even a free PlayStation 3. For the most part, consumers are not clamoring for 3D-ready TVs and other 3D devices. We don't believe 3D will disappear as a feature, but it certainly is not driving purchase behavior or price premiums as the manufacturers are hoping."