After a series of damaging reports about existing glasses free 3D technology, Eric Angello, CMO of auto-stereo 3D panel company Exceptional 3D, hits back at ' negative feedback'.
Although the majority of people say 3D will only be a success if the glasses can be dropped, industry comment, reviews and audience reactions indicate existing glasses free 3D technology still has some convincing to do.
In March, Danny Kaye, Executive Vice President, Global Research and Technology Strategy at Fox, said he believed glasses free 3D technology could stunt growth of the 3D format. Analysts Futuresource have said auto-stereo 3D TV needs a radical re-think and Toshiba’s recent launch of its 55” glasses free 3D TV for consumers has received very poor reviews.
Eric Angello is the Co-Founder, CMO & Creative Director of award winning glasses-free 3D display specialists Exceptional 3D, who recently supplied the technology to power America’s largest network of 3D displays. In this 3D Focus exclusive, Eric hits back at ‘negative perceptions’.
Eric Angello: In my opinion, a major issue for this or any industry is excessive negative perspectives. With so much accessibility to information via the web, anyone can be considered a writer these days just by something as simple as blogging. That said, it's not hard to inappropriately influence readers because anyone can denounce or put down something by pointing out flaws, even if it's unintentional. But that is always much easier than highlighting the good characteristics and overall potential in something on a technological cutting-edge. That approach seems almost human nature. Those of us 'in the trenches' are seeing this negative feedback and encouraged to make positive improvements.
As one of the companies driving towards mass adoption of the glasses-free 3D technology, we are encouraged to bring innovative new approaches to the entire solution, as well as new products. Just recently, we introduced our Portrait Series 3D solutions, a first-ever lenticular glasses-free 3D product-line, at InfoComm 2012. This is a big leap for the technology because it's something that was always of high demand. Through doubt, we saw potential which encouraged us to 'go for it' on the R & D side, and we were very successful. Beyond these type of efforts, we believe the long-term goals should all center around mass adoption and bringing a higher satisfaction to the audiences glasses-free 3D experience.
Some may consider the viewing experience less than satisfactory, but we respectfully disagree because the whole industry is really making incredible strides to improve the technology with every new generation of products and solutions coming out. Reaching new plateaus in the next few years could very well see larger format options becoming readily available and the improvements. Furthermore, niche experience applications could quickly reach a state of near perfection and in due time, it might not be unfathomable to imagine glasses-free 3D entering the home in a big way.
3D Focus: Would it be correct to say the auto-stereoscopic display market is still fairly small? If so, how does Exceptional 3D differentiate itself from its competitors? Surely the principle of lenticular technology is the same from vendor to vendor?
Eric Angello: Yes, the auto-stereo 3D industry as a whole is still very small. What we've done to differentiate ourselves is make strides by literally aiming all of our forces at 'keeping it simple'. We have a great deal of collective experience that spans over 20 years and stems from the inception of the no-glasses 3D industry. Respectively, we are also coming from different backgrounds and areas of this business. So our efforts center on a mindful approach where the best interest of customers comes first. We've placed high emphasis on being the most cost-effective digital signage content management solution and we are constantly re-evaluating what the market can bear to encourage our decision-making. This has afforded us the most screen sales to date, even against all of our competitors combined.
3D Focus: Why do you think the Nintendo 3DS 3D feature was not the success expected with gamers?
Eric Angello: Although the Nintendo 3DS effectively increased awareness for the glasses-free 3D technology, it did not seem to be viewed as a success because there was a somewhat underwhelming user experience. I personally had a chance to engage with the device and what I perceived was an 'OK' 3D effect, but it wasn't the 'WOW' factor I expected. With my background and expertise in the auto-stereo 3D field, I know that specific considerations must be made for a good glasses-free 3D experience, especially on the content side. But I was personally left feeling like it was hard to focus and find the 'sweet spot', while the content was less than impressive. Certain minor content aspects did aid in the experience, but there wasn't much out-of-screen 'POP' like we see with our Exceptional 3D digital signage applications.
3D Focus: What applications are your glasses free 3D displays suitable for?
Eric Angello: We believe our glasses free 3D solutions are applicable to any industry or vertical market. Currently, we are seeing a great amount of interest from casino gaming, c-stores, travel centres, corporate communications, tradeshow / events and retail. Beyond this, there's a 'simple' convenience with our content management solutions which are stemming our efforts into a variety of additional spaces which believe over-hauling their digital signage efforts make sense to be in 3D. Our technology is proven, cost-effective and 'future-proof' in the sense that you can still play existing content while introducing a next-generation advertising medium.
3D Focus: Can you share information about your recent deal with Travel Plaza TV?
Eric Angello: One of the conveniences we offer with our leading technology is to private label the display. This is what we did. It gives our customers a chance to secure a solid, proven technology which they can treat as their own and at the same time, continue to retain our expertise and support throughout a long and healthy relationship.
3D Focus: What are your core revenue models?
Eric Angello: The core value of our business is to put our customers success before our own by being the most well-versed end-to-end solution. From a revenue stand-point, we concentrate highly on hardware and creative services. In addition, our expertise on deployment and CMS solutions are just some of the things we bring to the table for the service side, and we have been a crutch through many major deployments. Our expertise not only lends itself to a wide-range of know-how, but also encourages our continued success as we seed the market as the most accessible resource for information and responsive support.
3D Focus: How can you convert 2D to glasses free 3D in real time when it is so difficult to achieve good conversion from 2D to regular 3D?
Eric Angello: The 'real-time' conversion is handled through a partner relationship which has decided that they only want to work with the Exceptional 3D technology for real-time, on-the-fly conversion. In their words, "the quality of the experience is the best on the market" and our expertise helps to reach and overcome milestones where collaboration is critical. Otherwise, we will occasionally 'farm-out' over-flow conversion projects to a fellow glasses-free 3D technology company (Dimenco) who we consider to be the best when it comes to converting content. Having strong relationships like this is important. In the end, we are all in this together and we all need to succeed together.
3D Focus: Why are auto-stereoscopic screens so expensive?
Eric Angello: They are? Well, I guess if you aren't shopping with the right solutions provider then they certainly are! We've taken a path to challenge 2D digital signage and if your looking to make transition from dated 2D technology to 'future-proof' solutions that supports 2D as well as the glasses-free 3D experience, we are the premium choice. There are a lot of options out there, but when it comes to being cost-effective, the efforts can only be supported by so much capital. We've deployed more displays than our entire industry combined because we make it simple and offer constant support to ensure our customers succeed.
3D Focus: There still seems to be very few glasses free 3D displays in public areas (certainly in the UK). Why, when it seems such an obvious choice for advertisers, are they still not as widespread as we might expect?
Eric Angello: We've noticed that certain territories are not as engaged with the 3D technology for some reason or another. It could be due to economic trends or timing, but we believe there will be a much greater interest as the next couple of year's carry on. Right now, the US and other territories in the America's are anxious to get the technology. However, some place like EU are reluctant where this was not the case in year's past. I think it's a matter of economic stability where a positive direction at a companies bottom–line is realized with the injection of the technology as part of their marketing and advertising.
3D Focus: Tell us about your award.
Eric Angello: The 'Best In Show' award we received at DSE 2012 in Las Vegas was for the "Best 3D-Based Digital Signage Products'. It was a real honor because there was a great deal of other auto-stereo 3D displays at the event including Dimenco, Alioscopy and Magnetic 3D. So winning the award was very exciting. We spent a lot of time leading up to DSE with focus on having variety and spicing up our presentation of the technology. I think that, in the end, our up front effort was rewarded because each of our technology demonstrations presented something a little different to give a well-rounded understanding of the actual glasses-free 3D capabilities.
3D Focus: Apart from increasing the resolution, how else can lenticular technology be improved?
Eric Angello: I think there is room for improvement with every technology. Obviously over time, things tend to be refined which leads to more satisfying user experiences. That said, the auto-stereo 3D technology can be viewed as the same with respect to any other technology offered. I anticipate that as time carries on, we will see great improvements with clarity (resolution) and transitional viewing zones. Aside from this, I would expect that these improvements will lend themselves to improving any issues with moiree. I will say that most companies have done fairly well to minimize this degradation, but there are inherent characteristics with this technology, just like when the first cellphones or computers came out. Nothing is perfect out of the gate, we are just so pre-disposed to what we believe is perfect that it leaves everyone with a jaded perspective on how we reached this point. The time that has been and is being invested by the collective auto-stereo 3D industry will really encourage furthering the overall improvement.
3D Focus: Do you think conversion from stereo 3D to auto-stereo 3D has reached a high enough quality?
Eric Angello: I do not. But there is a major oversight with this aspect of the auto-stero 3D industry as it relates to actual 'conversion'. I think the displays can handle the experience, but the misconception is that ANYTHING can be converted and achieve the results of good glasses-free 3D by 'the press of a button'. However, I contest this assumption because conversion is not going to be as good as CGI. Furthermore, if the content going into the conversion process is not produced, filmed, acquired, etc. with the intent of being in 3D, then it will not deliver satisfying results. In most cases, the blame gets placed on the display and that is not fair. The truth is in most cases, the foundation of the production didn't properly consider the end results which are desired. So if things don't 'play to the camera' then the audience experience will suffer. I guess long-story, short, the emphasis for good auto-stereo 3D conversion content needs to be placed on the material which is going into the conversion process, instead of the effectiveness of the tools on the outputting end. When the content coming in is actually given proper attention, the auto-stereo 3D experience on the other end will be better enabled to a more favorable result.
For more information about Exceptional 3D visit http://www.exceptional3d.com/
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