RealD president says passive 3-D TV is coming next year

Parents and others with lots of friends (or patrons) can rest a bit easier knowing that they’ll be able to enjoy 3-D TV in their living room (or bar) without having to spend exorbitant amounts on glasses for everyone in the room. That’s because, according to the president of RealD (the company whose disposable glasses are now used in most 3-D theater presentations), passive 3-D HDTV sets will arrive the spring of 2011, ending the need for active-shutter (expensive) glasses.

During the 3rd Annual 3-D Entertainment Summit in Burbank, CA, Josh Greer, the president and founder of RealD, said this means that consumers will no longer need to spend $130 to $200 for a pair of active-shutter glasses, but rather use a pair similar to ones offered in theaters that cost a dollar.

Greer said his company’s new system uses electro-optical ZScreen technology that’s inserted into the front of a flat-panel screen. This system rapidly changes the light from clockwise circular polarization to counterclockwise and then back again.

The RealD circularly polarized passive glasses act like shutters, permitting the left image to go to the left eye by making the right eye black out, during which time the right eye shows the right eye view while blacking out the left eye. Images are displayed sequentially on the flat panel, just like the current 3-D TVs.

The benefits of using RealD’s ZScreen technology, Greer said, include lighter, cheaper glasses that don’t require recharging or replacing batteries. Additionally, the 3-D effect won’t be lost when someone walks between the 3-D TV set and the glasses because ZScreen doesn’t use an infrared sync emitter.

Passive screens, like the one that ReadD is trying to commercialize, are expensive. For this reason, Greer said, RealD’s passive 3-D solution won’t replace the current active-shutter offering, but will be sold alongside the older 3-D technology for at least the next four to five years.

The first passive products are expected to hit the market by April 2011; although, the first licensed RealD set manufacturers to bring passive TVs to the market (Sony, JVC, Samsung, Toshiba or Panasonic) has yet to be determined.

RealD will showcase the new technology during the CES 2011 convention exhibit in Las Vegas in January.