January 7, 2010

CES: The Beginning Of 3-D Television

The breakout hit of this year's Consumer Electronics Show (CES) has been 3-D television "” a technology that is being touted as the next big thing in home theater, AFP reported.

Sony chief executive Howard Stringer said when it comes to home entertainment there really is no experience like 3-D.

"We intend to take the lead in 3-D. We want to provide the most compelling 3-D content possible," he added.

Sony plans to be part of a 3-D television network in the United States that will stream live performances in the format.

A Sony demonstration of live 3-D broadcasting featured country music star Taylor Swift, who said she will use 3-D technology to document her upcoming tour of Asia. Sony has also teamed with Discovery and IMAX in a 3-D TV network and with ESPN to broadcast football matches and golf in 3-D.

IMAX stated that while the depth-perception technology has been around for years, it is finally "ready for prime time" as proven by box office successes of recent films "Avatar" and "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs".

This year, Sony will release a line of 3-D-ready televisions capable of synching with sensing units and "active shutter glasses," worn by viewers to create the illusion of a three-dimensional image.

Meanwhile, South Korea's LG Electronics displayed massive TV screens linked to wireless glasses during the CES show.

LG's Randy Overton told AFP that 3-D is going to be the next big buzz.

"Everyone is going to want it. Then the gaming systems will jump on," he added.

But while 3-D offerings are visually stunning, it is unlikely consumers will rush to buy the premium-priced television sets, according to Forrester Research analyst James McQuivey.

McQuivey said many consumers upgraded to high-definition sets in the past three years, and an infrastructure to deliver 3-D content to homes isn't in place.

He told AFP that while everyone is excited about how well 'Avatar' did, it is very hard to jump on the bandwagon when you don't see a path for bringing it into anyone's home.

Last month's release of science fiction blockbuster "Avatar," a 3-D film by "Titanic" director James Cameron, has renewed interest in the medium Growth of 3-D, even though it has been slow to take off because of a lack of programming, the need for the special glasses and the higher prices of 3-D sets.

However, the likelihood that it may take years to adopt 3-D TV -- just as it did with the Blu-ray DVD format -- has not deterred manufacturers.

Toshiba unveiled a flat-panel Cell TV that converts digital video into 3-D, while Panasonic went 3-D with a "Live In It" campaign for its electronics.

"Avatar" producer Jon Landau said at a Panasonic event at CES that 3-D is not about guys jumping off the screen, but really a more immersive and a more engaging experience for the consumer.

"It heightens the senses. I think you'll see 3-D become ubiquitous," he said.

In a push to bring more 3-D entertainment into the home, South Korea's Samsung has teamed up with Technicolor and DreamWorks Animation, maker of "Shrek" and other hit movies. The three firms announced they have formed an alliance to "accelerate the worldwide deployment of in-home 3-D to mainstream consumers."

Samsung will be marketing a "complete 3-D entertainment offering for the home" featuring a 3-D television set, 3-D Blu-Ray player and "stylish active shutter 3-D glasses."

Frederic Rose, chief executive of Technicolor, hopes to capitalize on the current excitement over the format, saying 3-D in theaters is "a gateway into the home."

"It's one thing to put on 3-D glasses in a theater, but at home, you're with other people in the living room, running to the kitchen and doing other things," said Greg Ireland of the research firm IDC.


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