Imagine living in a world without TVs; it is practically impossible to do, due to how much TV has been incorporated into our society. TVs have been around for a very long time and have undergone many changes. They started with only black and white images which seemed incredible at the time. Eventually, color came about and everyone thought this was a revolution. The next revolution was high definition television and it seemed that television couldn't possibly get any better than this. Well the next revolution in television is coming much sooner than most would think, possibly by the end of this year! The next stage in television is 3-D, enabling the images to visually appear to jump off the screen. Sony and Panasonic plan on releasing 3-D TVs by the end of this year! Considering how successful 3-D movies have been, especially Avatar, it seems like this concept has a lot of potential.

How it works

3-D TV works by creating two images, one for the right eye and one for the left eye, and the 3-D glasses then alternates these images very quickly. The 3-D glasses are able to do this through the use of shutters in the lenses that alternate the left eye image and the right eye image at the same rate, 120 hertz, or 240 hertz for the images together. A sensor that is placed on the glasses between the lenses enable the TV to connect to the glasses. By constantly shifting the two different images very quickly the brain is tricked into merging the two different images together which creates a 3-D perspective.

a simulation of a 3-D TV being used for playing video games
a simulation of a 3-D TV being used for playing video games

Applications it can be used for

With the recent release of the movie 'Avatar', the graphics used in the film industry will forever be changed. The bar has been raised to incorporate aspects such as CGI and 3D technologies. A current concern regarding this is "Alright, that was a great movie, but how will I ever be able to get the same experience watching it outside of theaters?" The answer is 3-D TV. With rich colors and the same 3-D experience as in theaters, consumers will be able to enjoy movies like Avatar without the need for special equipment beyond their home television.

Imagine watching a football game and the ball appears to be heading right at you. ESPN plans to take full advantage of this 3-D concept and implement it into their programs. Watching the Monday night football game is going to be a drastically different experience when watching it in 3-D. It still won't be the same as actually going to the games in person but it probably will be better experience than watching it in 2-D.

Watching movies and football games is great, but is this going to change the way I play video games on my TV? Sony plans to implement this 3-D concept into their video games and has already successfully showed off demos of this at an expo in Atlanta. The lucky people who were able to try this new technology were very pleased.

Pricing vs Traditional TV's

The price of 3D TV doesn't is just as expensive as you think it would be...and more. At nearly $10,000 for 42' model (compared to $700 for a standard 42' 1080p television), Avatar himself would be the only one who could afford it. $10,000! Wow, what a rip. Though manufacturers thought to price the 3D TV's a little higher than LED/LCD televisions, $10,000 is a steep jump in price. Especially with the lack of any real 3D programming. This could slow the adoption rate of 3D televisions. Then you have to take into consideration all of the additional equipment you would need for 3D television. 3D cable programming, 3D Blu-Ray, 3D glasses are essential to get the 3D experience. So just go ahead and tack on an extra grand or two to the total. With today's economy, it is going to be very hard to find someone willing to pay for their favorite, already functional electronic devices all over again to accommodate the 3D fad.

Some potential problems

The most obvious potential problem is how much is this all going to cost? Consumers are going to have to pay for a new 3-D TV and the glasses, which overall might be expensive for some consumers. Another problem is that 3-D broadcasts require twice the amount of data compared to normal broadcasting, which causes a concern for whether or not these 3-D programs will consume an unworkable amount of television bandwidth. Another downside of 3-D TV is that whenever the consumer looks away from the TV they will see the shutters in the 3-D glasses opening and closing which can be irritating and can even cause headaches to the consumer.

Below is a live example of the Sony 3-D TV. During the screen shot of the racing game, it becomes apparent how the image is actually constructed, with two independent images strung together. Without the special glasses, the screen becomes very hard to watch and make sense of. So this brings up the argument, if the glasses ever break or if someone doesn't care to watch in 3-D, is the TV useless?

Expectations for 3-D TV

Major manufacturers like Sony, Samsung, and Panasonic have already begun to unveil new 3D television technologies that will be made available to consumers in 2010. Hyundai and Mitsubishi have already begun selling 3D-ready televisions in Asia and the United States.

Expectations for the success of 3D Tvs are varied. Some expect 3D to compose as much as 50% of the television market share by 2015, while several experts doubt that widespread use 3D TVs will ever occur.

The overarching consensus, however, is that the success of 3D home televisions relies heavily on the success of 3D feature films. The question remains: will this new, novel technology ever wear off? Indeed, Avatar was touted for having some of the best motion picture visuals of all time, and deservedly so. However, movies like Monsters vs. Aliens (available in 3D) fared suprisingly well at the box office while their critical acclaim failed to live up to these 3D movies’ revenues.

Although the future remains uncertain regarding the success of 3D, major TV manufacturers are all scurrying to create better, more affordable home theater technology. The release of Avatar, which saw record-breaking box office numbers, presents a promising future for 3D TVs in the upcoming months.

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