Will 2012 be the Year of Passive 3DTV?
By Eva Dudek, Global Marketing Project Manager, Polaroid Eyewear (Guest article)
2011 was a disappointing year for 3DTV, with much less adoption rates than the industry was hoping for. One reason for that is of course a lack of good quality 3D content, however I strongly believe that a move to passive 3D could make a huge impact on global adoption rates.
Passive 3DTV has a number of distinct advantages over the active systems, and that is becoming more and more apparent. Most of the CE manufacturers launched initially with active systems, because the cost and time-to-market is much quicker, but we are now seeing them launch passive 3DTVs. Indeed, the recent announcement from Sony means there is only one 3DTV manufacturer left only doing active. For the consumer, this will naturally mean more choice and more buying power.
Despite coming to the market quicker, active sets are also much more expensive in the long run, due to the sheer volume of technology in the glasses. Both CE manufacturers and broadcasters are offering bundled solutions to include 3D glasses with the TV set or broadcast service. Expensive glasses will naturally lead to a much higher bundle price for the consumer and there are typically not enough bundled glasses to satisfy the needs of the average family – leading to yet more expense.
Naturally active glasses are also extremely heavy and uncomfortable, due to the batteries and technology, so most consumers are not prepared to sit through a film whilst wearing the glasses. This is one of the main reasons that the industry is looking into glasses-free technology, however getting anywhere near a comparable experience to the glasses versions is a long way off.
Passive glasses are a lot cheaper and a lot more comfortable, they are also compatible across all passive systems, meaning that you can go to a friend’s house and take your glasses with you, as long as he or she has a passive 3DTV. A number of cinemas also have systems using passive circular polarization so you can equally take your glasses to the cinema.
Passive systems also get rid of the so-called “flicker effect” which is one of the biggest complaints of active 3DTV. Active 3D works on a system of constant shuttering, which causes flicker and can bother viewers who are sensitive to low refresh rates. Passive 3D, on the other hand, avoids that flicker effect, as it shows both images at once.
With so many manufacturers now offering passive sets, and likely more sets to come, we are truly seeing the move to passive 3DTV. The true effect of that remains to be seen, however, I truly believe that moving to passive 3DTV technology will be the first step to making 3DTV mainstream. The reduced cost of passive 3D glasses and the widespread compatibility across devices will surely catapult the marketplace to a level simply unattainable with active 3D.
Furthermore, I believe a move to passive technology will also bring with it a wider range of 3D content. As broadcasters and content providers find a more affordable route to market we should see a relative snowball effect of more affordable products. As the range of affordable products widens, a widespread adoption of the technology will follow.
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