An estimated 3 million people already have 3D-enabled TVs. Most use the “active” 3D system, which incorporates the 3D tech into the glasses. Active 3D TVs are easy to manufacture and command very little premium. Active-glasses 3D gives the viewer a full-1080p image in each eye. So they looked like a natural way to introduce 3D TV to consumers.But active glasses are pricey, need to be charged and can be heavy. Active 3D is also hard to show at retail, because they use infrared emitters that interfere with each other, making it difficult to show sets side by side. Plus there’s the risk of those pricey glasses walking away. But active glasses are so 2011.
Passive 3D puts the tech on the TV display, using polarizing filters. Lightweight, cheap passive glasses are similar to those used by RealD and MasterImage theaters. LG, Vizio and RealD are all working on passive 3D.
Autostereoscopic — glasses-free 3D — is the holy grail of stereoscopic displays. Early models suffered from “sweet spots” and “dead spots” so the viewer had to be perfectly positioned or the image would break.
Multiview Video or Free Viewpoint Television goes beyond stereoscopic. Instead of two cameras, it uses an array of several or many — like “bullet time” setup in the “Matrix” movies. One application would be to let viewers choose what viewpoint they want to see. Another would be use all those views to create a single image, with more lifelike depth than stereoscopic.
Volumetric/multidomain creates a physical volume that allows the viewer to peer 360-degrees around everything on the image. Volumetric technologies are in the R&D phase, with projection and laser solutions as well as flat panels that spin around an axis. All of them require a much bigger space than the typical living room, so volumetric 3D is mainly the domain of digital signage or specialty applications.
Holographic is the most futuristic of the 3D TV technologies. A holographic image might float in space, like Princess Leia’s message to Obi-wan Kenobi in “Star Wars,” or a flat holographic display might behave like a window, where what you can see depends on where you stand and how close you get.
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