Designer glasses eye launch in late '08

As DreamWorks Animation, Disney and other studios ramp up production of 3-D films, a newly formed company called D-mented Entertainment has teamed with Ray-Ban maker Luxottica Group and 3-D technological company Kerner Optical to launch a designer line of 3-D eyewear for the masses.

The company is banking on the idea that the public will shell out money for frames that will be higher quality and more stylish than the cardboard tossaways given out free in theaters. The stereoscopically enhanced 3-D glasses will be mounted in Wayfarer frames and should be ready for sale late this year.

The technological production of the glasses will be spearheaded by Kerner Optical founding partner Yuska Siuicki, who thinks designer lenses will eventually become as commonplace as cell phones.

Siuicki predicts consumers will be able to do much more with the lenses than watch the occasional 3-D theatrical release. Videogame makers will begin turning out 3-D games; audiences will watch shows and sports on 3-D television sets; and computer screens will be 3-D capable. Even film library titles will be candidates for 3-D upgrades: Siuicki said Kerner has developed technology to convert 2-D movies and TV shows to 3-D. The conversion cost, $5 million to $7 million for a film, will shrink as demand and technology improve. Kerner is also a partner in SpectonicIQ, one of several 3-D capable TV sets that will hit the retail marketplace this year.

“You will be using these high-end Ray-Ban glasses at home, on your computer and TV, and then you’ll stick them in your pocket and take them to the theater,” Siuicki said. “They are much more comfortable than what is out there now, and the lenses will soon be available in prescription. This space is exploding.”

D-mented, which will spearhead the launch of the lenses into the marketplace, will be run by producer-manager Dave Phillips and live event producer Carter Reese.

Kerner is made up of the physical effects division and operating stages of ILM, which Kerner acquired from George Lucas in 2006.

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