Here’s something worth seeing in person. At The Cable Show next week Motorola will be showing off a 3D TV demo using both a TV display and a Motorola set-top currently on the market. While 3D content delivery isn’t ready for prime time (yet), the consumer hardware to receive and display 3D pictures is already available.
I can’t speak to the TV sets – though 3D displays have generated increasing attention over the last 18 months – but I can speak to the set-tops supporting 3D. There are three basic qualifications. Compared to the last generation of set-tops in the field, next-gen versions must have more processing power, more memory, and MPEG-4 support, a la the Motorola DCX set-top product line. Other than that, it’s all a matter of video processing and encoding before content is delivered to the set-top, and a feedback loop between set-top and monitor to synchronize the frames of video being delivered to the left and right eyes.
For video processing purposes, Motorola is working now, along with many others, on 1080p video delivery at 60 frames per second, which doubles the current 30 frames per second rate on the highest quality of 1080p HD video delivered today. Although 1080p60 was initially under development for improved displays of high-speed sports action, it turns out to be ideal for stereoscopic viewing (i.e. 3D TV) as well. Each eye can get video information delivered at 30 frames per second for a high-quality, depth-enhancing experience.
From a bandwidth perspective, I was surprised to learn that 3D TV likely won’t end up being more onerous than HD TV is today. Between improvements in compression technology (like MPEG-4), and the ability to take advantage of redundancy in the images delivered to the left and right eyes of a viewer, bandwidth will not be as big a concern as I would have expected.
Finally, if you’re wondering when 3D TV will go beyond demos to consumer availability, the wait may not be as long as you think. According to a recent report put out by the CEA and the Entertainment Technology Center, consumers are increasingly showing a willingness to pay extra for 3D TV. “For those who have seen a 3D movie in the last year, 60 percent are willing to spend more on a 3D television for their home, and 19 percent are willing to spend up to 25 percent more.” Where there’s money to be earned, 3D TV will follow. Maybe the EngadgetHD guys should startworking on Engadget3D?