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Technology Showcase: 3D Displays

New innovations bring depth to a wide range of presentations. 2/01/2009 7:00 AM Eastern

Technology Showcase: 3D Displays

Feb 1, 2009 12:00 PM, By Jay Ankeney

New innovations bring depth to a wide range of presentations.




LG M4210D-B21

LG M4210D-B21

Why install 3D displays in corporate environments? Because you can. In fact, you may not be aware that you already have installed 3D-ready displays in boardrooms, training centers, lobbies, and as part of your digital signage throughout the campus. That's because starting in early 2007, many manufacturers started giving their LCD, plasma, and DLP displays refresh rates of 120Hz or greater (more about that below). The real question is: What are you going to use them for?

Many entertainment industry observers predict that this is going to be the year that 3D becomes a mainstream media option with more than 14 feature films popping out of the big screen at their audiences. There was also a 3D commercial during this month's Super Bowl, and at Macworld Expo, Spatial View revealed a 3D screen for the Apple iPhone. To Hollywood's delight, whole groups of digital 3D cinema screens are being set up in anticipation of James Cameron's sci-fi blockbuster Avatar, which is due out at the end of the year.

This isn't your granddaddy's 3D any more, although the illusion is still created by delivering different information to each eye that the brain then synthesizes into a perception of depth. Often referred to somewhat redundantly as “stereoscopic 3D,” modern multidimensional visualization processes are a far cry from the red/blue or red/green anaglyph approach first shown by producer Harry K. Fairall on Sept. 27, 1922, to a public audience at the Ambassador Hotel Theater in Los Angeles. Today's 3D has matured into full-color glory, separated into two visual streams (referred to as “eyes”) by either dual polarized lenses or alternating shutters in specially made glasses. Hence the terms “stereoscopic” or “stereopsis” have become common to describe modern 3D, although some think “bioptic” would be a more apt descriptor.

For some time now, scientific and engineering centers have been stepping into 3D for dimensional CAD visualization, realistic simulation training, and mapping strategies for geothermal and petrochemical exploration, to say nothing of intriguing implementations for medical training and communication.

The corporate communications realm — outside of its slide-rule enclaves — has, up to now, been less interested in adding what is referred to as the “Z-axis” to its display options. However, recent innovations have created several approaches to 3D displays that can be applicable to any signage, training, presentation, or teleconferencing installation. That's thanks in large part to the evolution to the aforementioned 120Hz refresh rate on newer displays. That means instead of seeing 60 interlaced fields or progressive frames per second, the amount of information hitting the screen has been doubled. Initially, this was to provide smoother images — especially desirable for sports presentations — but 120Hz is also a convenient intersection between film's 24fps cadence (multiply by five) and video's 30fps (multiply by four), so it is also claimed to have an advantage for fast-paced action sequences in movies. Even for expert viewers, though, the step up to 120Hz or even the more recent 480Hz is sometimes hard for the human eye to appreciate.

Enter the push toward 3D.

Now at 120Hz, these sets can present each eye with the same amount of 60fps information that single-stream 2D displays conventionally gave both eyes at once. That is why they are considered 3D-ready, and if that sounds like the misbegotten “HD-ready” marketing-hype phrase from the dawn of high-definition displays, your ears are as good as your eyes. Until now, to actually facilitate 3D presentations, all of the 3D-ready sets sold in the United States needed to be connected to an external PC or set-top box to process the incoming material. With this outside help, an LCD or plasma panel can put out frames with alternating polarization that can be viewed through passive (i.e. cheap) polarized glasses. DLP-based displays can beam out an infrared signal to active (i.e. more expensive) glasses with LCD lenses that open and shut alternatively to separate the stereoscopic image. An advantage, of course, is that if you turn off the outboard processing, the 120Hz display becomes a fine 2D presentation device with an enhanced refresh rate.


Technology Showcase: 3D Displays

Feb 1, 2009 12:00 PM, By Jay Ankeney

New innovations bring depth to a wide range of presentations.




There are already flatpanels planned for release this year that have this capability built-in so the outboard processor can be dispensed with. In Japan, cablecaster BS 11 has been broadcasting multiple 3D broadcasts every day, and there have been several live 3D broadcasting experiments domestically — including the FedEx BCS National Championship game between the University of Florida and the University of Oklahoma shown on Jan. 8 in more than 80 converted movie theaters.

Many think that 3D will not become a widely accepted medium until those special glasses can be dispensed with altogether, and although there have been some clever strides toward that goal, none has been widely accepted so far by the marketplace. Referred to as “autostereoscopic,” these glasses-free displays use sophisticated rendering algorithms to project stereo pairs of views coming out of the screens. These can even be created by overlays placed on top of conventional LCD panels when assisted by third-party processing systems.

The first autostereoscopic, or glasses-free, 3D displays could only produce five to seven views separated by either lenticular lenses or parallax barriers. This meant the illusion would be lost unless the viewer maintained a limited, fixed viewing angle. This relegated the displays to a novelty niche of digital signage or very specialized engineering applications. A great deal of advancement has been made in this arena, however, and the best of the current autostereoscopic designs with up to 46 views reveal the potential eye-candy appeal of this approach.

With this facet of the display industry in its infancy, the sales growth of 3D in the pro AV realm is difficult to track. However, although many market researchers foresee a reduction in predicted sales for conventional, 2D flatpanel displays this year, it is worth noting that Insight Media — a publishing and consulting firm focused on the display industry — forecasts the expected sales of 3D-ready and 3DTV units to soar to 28,340,000 by 2012 from 274,000 in 2007.

So here is a look at the leading 3D display offerings that major manufacturers consider relevant to corporate installations and not necessarily limited to just engineering/scientific applications. In general, that means these displays are usually larger than desktop displays and can be seen comfortably by multiple viewers. You might want to keep in mind that many insiders predict the first killer app for 3D will be in videogaming, so who could resist putting an eye-catching 3D display in a boardroom, training class, or conference area — wherever harried business people gather to learn, work, or play?

To convert any of its ALM LCD panels into a 3D display, AKIRA has produced a 3D autostereoscopic display parallax barrier overlay for the ALM series of 46in., 52in., 70in., 82in., and larger screens. Currently producing eight views, with more than 21 views in development, this autostereoscopic display can actually be used on either LCD or plasma screens with AKIRA's own 3D algorithm. On top of that, image manipulation is made possible without the use of a mouse or a keyboard when using AKIRA's touchscreen display system with advanced IR image sensors. With the use of unique Multi-Point-Touch (MPT) technology, this 3D overlay is actually capable of transforming viewers into controllers.

3D was seen throughout the January Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. One of the most interesting autostereoscopic offerings was the 3DHD-40, which was developed by a French company new to the United States, Alioscopy. This is the same display that also won the Best Buzz award at InfoComm 08. Alioscopy's 3DHD-40, a 40in. design based on NEC Multeos M40 multifunction LCD panels, supports both 2D and 3D content in full HD resolution (1920×1080p). Standard video can be shown on the 3DHD-40 as well as specific 3D content that is rendered with typical 3D software such as Autodesk 3ds Max and Maya, NewTek Lightwave 3D, or Softimage XSI. The Alioscopy display uses eight interleaved images to produce its glasses-free 3D effect created by the off-axis projection method using asymmetric camera-viewing cones. To accommodate the offset, the lenticular lens on the 3DHD-40 is rotated so that it runs diagonally across the screen rather than vertically.


Technology Showcase: 3D Displays

Feb 1, 2009 12:00 PM, By Jay Ankeney

New innovations bring depth to a wide range of presentations.




Barco claims its new Galaxy NW-12 is the world's first active 3D stereo 3-chip DLP projector with a native WUXGA (1920×1200) resolution that is ideal for videoconferencing installations because it can operate in bright environments, thanks to its 12,000-lumen light output. The Galaxy NW-12's native stereoscopic capabilities let you see both 2D and 3D images simultaneously on the same canvas. The NW-12 includes both passive and active Infitec color-spectrum stereo separation, and it is optimized for multiple projector system integration with edge-blending technology to create one continuous image without blurry overlap zones.

For an even more immersive 3D experience, the Barco I-Space is a multisided cubic environment in which one is completely surrounded by rear-projected virtual imagery. Barco's I-Space can consist of three, four, five, or six walls, according to the user's requirements. The latest news from Barco is that I-Space can now benefit from Duet II, Barco's proprietary active-to-passive stereo converter with patent-pending features that elevate the performance of Barco's passive stereo display systems — such as the I-Space — to new levels of Z-space involvement.

Hyundai IT has been allowing its customers in Japan to see 3D broadcasts since early last year, and now the company is bringing this 3D LCD display technology to the United States with its 22in. Hyundai W220S and 24in. W240S 3D displays. Hyundai's leading position in 3D presentation is boosted by its inclusion of DDD Group's realtime Tridef Technology in its displays, providing 2D to 3D conversion that changes flat-space images into Z-space dimensionality on the fly. Both the W220S and W240S boast 1920×1200 resolution and a contrast ratio of 10000:1. Hyundai IT's latest polarized glasses bonding technology allows viewing natural 2D/3D images by eliminating the screen from moiré, ghosting, and flickering. The Hyundai 3D displays replace the traditional button-control mechanism with touch-sensor OSD control buttons.

If you want a 3D display without compromise for top-floor offices or a top-end screening room, JVC is providing its DLA-RS2-3D configuration that is combined JVC's DLA-RS2 projector equipped with Sensio's new S3D-PRO high-definition stereoscopic video processor. JVC's 3-chip DLA-RS2 projector features the company's patented Direct Drive Image Light Amplifier (D-ILA) technology that delivers high-resolution images with the smooth look of film at 1920×1080 resolution with a native contrast ratio of 30,000:1 — the highest in the industry. Sensio's next-generation 3D processor, used in conjunction with a conventional HD player, processes encoded 3D material into stereoscopic format, allowing users to store and play movies in 3D.

LG Electronic's Flatron M4210D-B21 42in. True3D full HD 1080p autostereoscopic monitor incorporates a fixed lenticular lens enabling an S-IPS angle of 178 degrees. With 25 views, this allows multiple observers to view the 3D images at one time because of a wider viewing angle. The interactive monitor features a built-in Celeron M 430 controller with IP functionality and 1920×1080 resolution. It can use content from still images, dynamic animation, and either 2D or 3D movies. It also offers a new Split Zoom function, a lamp fault sensor, a child lock, and position and tracking controls.

If you want to be able to visualize the projects your engineers are working on in a conference/boardroom environment, Mechdyne has produced an elegant 3D Review Station that should satisfy both viewing convenience and technical accuracy needs. The station consists of a 61in. 1920×1080p-resolution rear-projection system from Samsung with LED lamp-based DLP micromirror chips combined with Mechdyne's own Conduit software running on two PCs — one for the application and one for image rendering. The 3D Review Station sits on an electrically height-adjustable cart on wheels. It comes with a handheld game controller (Saitek) for interaction and a 24in. LCD widescreen monitor for setup and conduit operation.


Technology Showcase: 3D Displays

Feb 1, 2009 12:00 PM, By Jay Ankeney

New innovations bring depth to a wide range of presentations.




Philips 56in. Quad Full HD LCD

Philips 56in. Quad Full HD LCD

Starting at the end of last year, Philips has been offering its 56in. glasses-free 3D display based on a 3840×2160 resolution LCD panel. Using its own WOWvx technology, the Philips 56in. Quad Full HD (QFHD) autostereoscopic LCD display creates 46 lenticular viewing zones, which provides one of the best 3D experiences without polarized or flicker lenses. If you want to really knock people's eyes for a loop, consider Philips' new 132in. 3D WOWzone videowall approach. The 132in. 3D WOWzone combines nine of Philips' earlier 42in. WOWvx 3D multiview autostereoscopic lenticular displays into an attention-grabbing multiscreen messaging tool that is designed for large indoor spaces and comes on a wheel-based frame for mobile installation. The central enabling technology for all of this is the flexible WOWvx 2D-plus-Depth format, which allows decoupling of content creation and content visualization. Philips' autostereoscopic 3D displays support the unique Declipse image format, which enables a true look-around effect along with the 3D visualization.

Built with a unique StereoMirror design, Planar System's SD2620W delivers full-resolution widescreen WUXGA (1920×1200) images to both eyes for superior stereo imaging with passive, polarizing glasses. In the StereoMirror design, this bioptic separation is achieved using the principle of conservation of polarization. Unlike other technologies, Planar claims that with its SD2620W, multiple users can be sitting or standing and see the same quality image because there is no sweet spot anywhere on the screen. In Planar's SD line of monitors (where “SD” stands for “stereo display,” not “standard definition”), the planes of polarization for light emitted from the two AMLCDs in a StereoMirror have the same orientation — for example, 45 degrees. As a result, the plane of polarization for the left-eye image seen in transmission from the lower monitor is unchanged in passing through the mirror. However, the polarization plane in the light path of the upper monitor (right-eye image) is effectively rotated 90 degrees upon reflection. Images with orthogonal polarization are extinguished, and the result is a single, fused stereoscopic image.

Samsung 2233RZ

Samsung 2233RZ

In January, Samsung announced its first professional 3D monitor; the 22in. 2233RZ. Samsung has long been known for its best-of-class consumer 3D displays, but its new 2233RZ is geared for professional applications because it is compatible with Nvidia's GeForce 3D Vision graphics card. With environmental concerns in mind, Samsung built an off-timer function into the display for energy-saving benefits, enabling the monitor to shut down at preset times. Unlike other widescreen monitors, the 1680×1050-resolution 2233RZ displays 5:4 and 4:3 images at accurate aspect ratios without enlargement or distortion. The display also monitor boasts a refined, streamlined, unique design. It will be available for purchase in April 2009.

If you want the highest-resolution digital 3D display available for corporate installation, Sony has released a 3D adapter designed to work specifically with its 4K projectors. The new single-projector-lens units, models LKRL-A002 (X1.1-1.9) and LKRL-A003 (X1.9-3.3), consist of an optical and mechanical assembly for each left-eye and right-eye image. Because the source projector puts out a total of 4K resolution, this means each eye is seeing 2K images. When used with Sony's integrated media block (LMT-200), the SRX-R220 4K projector is able to achieve 4:4:4 RGB signal path from the media block while avoiding the triple-flash artifacting claimed to plague some current 3D solutions. The 3D adapter attaches to the lens mount of the projector and is compatible with all Sony 4K projectors in the field.


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