CES to reveal plans for 3-D in 2010

The 2010 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), which opened this week in Las Vegas, is teeming with plans from the various video manufacturers to deploy and promote 3-D technologies for sports, movies and TV programs.

Among the speculation is that DirecTV, with its new HD satellite now safely in orbit, will announce plans for 3-D programming beginning this March when the satellite goes online. Reports say only a firmware update to existing set-top boxes will enable DirecTV subscribers to watch programming in 3-D.

Sky, the satellite broadcaster in the UK, has already revealed its 3-D plans with a new HDMI specification. HDMI 1.4 will ensure compatibility between 3-D TV displays and set-top boxes. Many broadcasters are pushing the HDMI to officially support 1080p 3-D transmissions, which will sacrifice resolution while saving bandwidth by combining left/right images into a single frame.

Many manufacturers, including Sony and LG Electronics, are expected to announce 3-D-capable HDTV sets at CES. Also scheduled for introduction are a number of 3-D Blu-ray Disc players.

The Blu-ray Disc Association has already finalized its 3-D specification, which includes support for the PlayStation 3. The format will be display-agnostic and support any 3-D TV, including LCD and plasma models.

Blu-ray players with 3-D discs will project a 1080p image for each eye. Special glasses required for viewing 3-D brings the two images together to create the additional affect of depth. The 3-D specification calls for encoding 3-D video using the Multiview Video Coding (MVC) codec, an extension to the ITU-T H.264 Advanced Video Coding (AVC) codec currently supported by all Blu-ray Disc players.

MPEG-4 MVC compresses both left- and right-eye views with a typical 50 percent overhead, compared to equivalent 2-D content, and can provide full 1080p resolution backward-compatibility with current 2-D Blu-ray Disc players. The specification also incorporates enhanced graphic features for 3-D. These features provide a new experience for users, enabling navigation using 3-D graphic menus and displaying 3-D subtitles positioned in 3-D video.

The market for 3-D TV is expected to be $1.1 billion in 2010, according to market research firm DisplaySearch. By 2015, it’s expected to skyrocket to $15.8 billion.