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3D TV is on its way
Whenever I hear the words “3D TV”, I’m reminded of a scene in the 1971 flick Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory in which Mike Teavee uses Wonka’s television chocolate machine to miniaturise himself to fit inside a TV screen. As the mini Mike shouts with excitement about his TV debut, his mother reaches into the TV, picks him up and puts him in her purse. As a kid, that was as close as I’d get to 3D TV.
But on Monday, although I wasn’t quite miniaturized, I had the chance to visit a Panasonic plant in Osaka where I put on my own pair of TV glasses and watched 3D TV in a way young Mike Teavee would have loved.
I watched two F1 drivers jostle for position on the track before one roared by the other, appearing as if the F1 car was driving off the screen straight at me. In the next scene, athletes at the 2008 Beijing Olympics flipped, spun, biked, swam and ran as the 3D effect separated them from the background, adding a sense of realism and making for some entertaining TV watching. Floating confetti at the opening ceremonies looked so real I thought I could catch it in my hand.
Panasonic showed off their new 50-inch model 3D TV this week, hoping it will become the size of choice for home theatre enthusiasts when it is released to the public sometime in 2010. The introduction of this smaller sized model — compared to the 103-inch model it debuted last October — brings Panasonic one step closer to delivering 3D TV to living rooms worldwide. It will be debuted for the public at CEATEC Japan from Oct 6-10.
As Panasonic engineer Keisuke Suetsugi explains, active shutters in the glasses work in sync with the TV and Blu-ray player to rapidly alternate full HD images between the viewer’s left and right eyes, tricking the brain into seeing 3D on a 2D screen.
Panasonic teamed up earlier this year with Hollywood movie studios and the Blu-ray Disc Association to begin developing 3D movies, realizing that without content to push 3D TV the format will never survive. One such 3D venture, James Cameron’s “Avatar“, opens in theatres around the world this December.
With plans from other big electronics makers such as Sony and Samsung to have 3D TVs on the shelves in 2010 as well, the competition for sales and better technology is just starting to heat up — and that’s surely exciting the Mike Teavees of the world.
Photo credit: REUTERS/Colin Parrott