New tech allows real-time conversion of both 2D and stereoscopic 3D to glasses-free 3D images
Juan Pablo Conti ©RapidTVNews | 26-12-2011
If this will work as it says on the tin, if it won't affect native image resolution and if the viewing angle will allow multiple viewers to appreciate the 3D effect, we are witnessing one of the year's biggest audiovisual announcements.
The good news is that we won't have to wait too long to find out. Stream TV Networks, the company behind the apparently groundbreaking announcement, has promised to reveal every detail and showcase the technology at work during the upcoming CES 2012 show in Las Vegas, Nevada. Specifically, it will be at 8:30 a.m. local time on January 9 when, during a press conference, Stream TV will officially declare the death of 3D glasses.
The sense of anticipation stems from the fact that the company claims to have developed technology which – again, if true – would automatically pulverise the two biggest obstacles preventing the mass adoption of 3D television.
Let's review what each of those two barriers consists of and see how Stream TV claims to have solved them. The first one: using 3D glasses takes away the spontaneity of watching TV by adding a strange, uncomfortable, breakable, potentially expensive device to an otherwise straightforward process.
Ultra-D – the brand name that Stream TV has chosen to patent its new technology – can be embedded into not only televisions but also PC monitors, laptops, tablets, smartphones, gaming consoles, set-top boxes, digital signage and even digital picture frames. Devices deemed as Ultra-D-compatible will be able to display "autostereoscopic" images (meaning stereoscopic stills and video that don't require the use of 3D glasses or special headgear to watch them).
The company has called the quality of its autostereoscopic 3D images "unprecedented". For the time being, the only clue it has given regarding how this is achieved is that Ultra-D technology "leverages custom hardware [so, expect the product to come in the shape of a microchip], middleware techniques and software algorithms".
Second barrier: why would anyone bother buying a 3D TV when there's such a scarcity of content out there?
According to Stream TV, Ultra-D allows for the real-time conversion to its autostereoscopic format of not only any original 2D content (from an old The Smurfs episode to a live F1 race; from the latest home video uploaded to YouTube to a 2D Blu-ray disc) but also stereoscopic 3D (the latest generation of content which currently requires users to wear active or passive glasses).
In other words, what the company is saying is that there isn't a single video frame that has been recorded since the invention of television that its technology can't turn into 3D material – the lack of 3D content argument vanishing overnight.
The company also says the technology allows for the customisation of the 3D effect to address individual differences in spatial perception and the varying impact of 3D rendering on viewer comfort.
If there were any lingering doubts about how revolutionary Stream TV Networks really believes its 3D glasses-free technology will prove, Mathu Rajan, the company's CEO, has gone as far as saying that Ultra-D is "capable of creating a significant shift in the way people view media, comparable to the transition from black and white to colour TV".