The global financial crisis has led Samsung to no longer pursue its license agreement with RealD to manufacture passive 3D televisions with full HD functionality of sizes over 55”.
As reported by 3dfocus.co.uk in May, Samsung and RealD have been developing an LCD based display system that incorporates active shutter technology into the display rather than the glasses. Wearing the same circular polarised RealD glasses they get from a trip to the cinema, viewers would be able to watch brighter, flicker-free, full HD 3D images across a wide viewing angle. The plan was to launch the first sets in 2012.
However, according to RealD, Samsung have decided to cease its involvement due to low consumer demand. However, the license agreement remains in place and the technology was always intended to be offered to other manufacturers starting with PC monitor makers.
The news might disappoint 3D advocate and RealD board member James Cameron who, back in May, said "RealD and Samsung's new displays look fantastic and represent the next step in 3D home entertainment. Full resolution viewing is key to experiencing 3D as a filmmaker intended, and when combined with the comfort and practicality of RealD 3D cinema glasses, this display technology will set a new standard for 3D in the home."
RealD have announced they will now be pursuing other partners to incorporate the new technology into their televisions which offers the benefits of both active and passive 3D television technology in one solution. Currently, passive 3D TVs offer the advantage of cheap lightweight glasses so manufactures like LG can bundle several 3D glasses with its 3D sets. Passive 3D TVs also don’t suffer from the flickering issue present in active 3D TVs which require each lens on the glasses (which cost approx £50 each) to rapidly switch off and on so each eye sees a different image. However, active 3D TVs do offer the benefit of delivering full HD images to each eye unlike the passive 3D system.
Samsung has joined Sony and Panasonic in a standardisation agreement with RealD’s direct competitor XPAND called M-3DI. The collaboration means viewers can use the same pair of 3D glasses to watch 3D content on Panasonic, Sony and Samsung 3D televisions, in an attempt to solve the problem of people not being able to watch 3D programmes on a friend’s 3D television if they owned an incompatible 3D TV.
Active 3D televisions have been more popular than passive 3D televisions due to their lower upfront purchase cost but LG have made in-roads with their passive Cinema 3D range which includes 7 pairs of glasses and prices starting below £700.
It will be interesting if LG decide to pick up the new technology.
Despite concerns about the decline in 3D box office sales, RealD continue to perform strongly in the theatrical market and posted a better than expected second quarter net income of $18.9 million. The 3D cinema industry has received a boost from Lion King 3D and Transformers: Dark of the Moon and early signs show Tin Tin 3D and The Invention of Hugo Cabret will be successful 3D movies.
The company generates its revenue by charging a license fee for each person that watches a 3D film in a RealD theatre but it clearly sees the home market as the growth area over the next several years.
The Science Behind RealD Full HD Technology
The display panels are based on technology in the RealD cinema system utilised in cinemas. In a RealD cinema, a liquid crystal based polarisation modulating switch sits in front of the movie projector and alternately switches the polarisation of the image as it goes out of the projector to clockwise for right eye, counterclockwise for left eye. In the Real D glasses are two circular polarised lenses which correspond to the polarised left and right images bouncing off the silver screen. The new RealD TV technology works in a similar fashion. An LCD panel sits in front of the screen. As the screen displays each full HD left and right frame in sequence, the LCD panel actively syncs with the left and right eye images, circularly polarizing them in alternate directions. This allows for full resolution high definition 3D video to each eye using RealD 3D cinema glasses. RealD claim that this technology also allows for "no reduction of image quality in 2D mode, unlike FPR displays that darken 2D images or make text less sharp".
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