With not much recent traditional industry or marketplace publicity, Sharp and partner Dynamic Digital Depth continue work on refining their 3D movie-viewing displays and promoting their adjacent products mostly online. Although the original 3D technology has been around for more than half a century, mostly as a gimmick to sell movie tickets and increase eyeballs on TV with moderate success, the traditional format requires special glasses to capture the three-dimensional effects.
The most recent example of 3D stunt programming was earlier this month in the middle of the November sweeps when the NBC series "Medium" presented some scenes of one episode in 3D. A flashing on-screen icon alerted viewers to put their glasses back on for each upcoming scene. Technical results of the outcome were mixed, but it probably was not 3D's finest hour. (Distribution of the necessary glasses for this one episode was mostly restricted to paid subscribers of TV Guide magazine.)
According to NAB engineers, Sharp is a leader in 3D technology and in a recent technical publication the lobby group points out that 3D viewing requires separate images to be presented for the left and right eyes. Sharp uses a "parallax barrier" technique to achieve this. The directions in which light leaves the display are controlled so that the left and right eyes see different images simultaneously. This makes it possible for the image on the screen to appear in three-dimensions without the user having to wear those special cardboard glasses.
The basic principle of the parallax barrier system is achieved using a structure incorporating a conventional TFT LCD and a specially developed "switching liquid crystal" which is used to implement the parallax barrier and control the directions in which light leaves the display, Sharp said in a statement. This ensures that different patterns of light reach the left and right eyes of the viewer.
Sharp's 3D products include the Actius RD3D, which comes with the TriDef movie player and a number of sample movies that allow users to see what the technology is capable of. Sharp also offers TriDef DVD player software, which allows today's standard DVD movies to be viewed in 3D mode (even though the content is typically 2D). Philips' (opens in new tab) player does real-time conversion of the standard DVD disk to achieve the 3D-like effects.
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