Sensio sees resurgence of 3-D television in the home

Sensio, a Montreal-based maker of 3-D distribution technologies for the home and cinema, is planning for a resurgence of home 3-D TV set sales in the next year.

Richard LaBerge, executive vice president and chief marketing officer, said the 2010 sales slump of 3-D sets after the first year of “big hype” was typical in high tech businesses and has allowed 3-D-related technology vendors to learn from their mistakes. He said they saw it coming and were prepared for the worst.

“By the end of 2010, we realized the [sales] numbers were not there,” LaBerge said. “The consumer experience was not up to par. We then got feedback from consumers. We learned two major things: consumers want more content and they want a better user experience. We are now dealing with both issues.”

As to content, there is still not enough 3-D programming but it is catching up fast, he said. It takes 3000 to 4000 hours of content to sustain a 24/7 television channel. So there’s still not enough material to sustain a channel. One solution, he said, is on-demand programming in various forms including traditional movies-on-demand, pay-per-view and video streaming.

Sensio itself has gotten into the licensing business to aggregate content and has so far acquired rights to more than 25 shows, which it is making available to various parties.

With regard to watching 3-D TV sets at home, LaBerge said, “the user experience was not up to par.” Some TVs required consumers to buy extras for viewing 3-D and even then made processes like switching between 2-D and 3-D too onerous for typical viewers.

As a result, Sensio introduced auto-detection, which senses the type of program coming into the set and automatically selects the right viewing mode. It also developed the S2D Switch, a feature that enables spatially compressed 3-D video streams to be displayed in 2-D when large groups want to view programming together.

The company also developed Sensio Hi-Fi 3D, a unique frame-compatible technology (also known as “qunicunx” format decoding) for high-fidelity stereoscopic signal processing that can be easily integrated into a variety of products.

So far, Vizio, the 3-D TV manufacturer, is employing several of Sensio’s technologies into its consumer 3-D sets. Larger companies, such as Samsung and LG Electronics, are also considering using them. “All these manufacturers want to differentiate their products from their competitors,” LaBerge said. “Hi-Fi 3D is one way to do it.”

LaBerge predicts sales of consumer 3-D sets will increase in 2012. “We are going through a chasm now that will determine what the final 3-D product will be like,” he said. “When we come out of it in the next year, it will determine the features of 3DTV sets for years to come. I’m very optimistic about the future of 3-D TV in the home.”