The Television of Tomorrow?

By: Matthew Juber Surely you have heard of a 3-D movie, maybe you have even seen one. Well, now there’s talk of 3-D TV, and some sets will not even require the use of 3-D glasses. There is a lot of interest in “the next generation” of TVs from manufacturers and outlets, and many of

By: Matthew Juber

Surely you have heard of a 3-D movie, maybe you have even seen one. Well, now there’s talk of 3-D TV, and some sets will not even require the use of 3-D glasses. There is a lot of interest in “the next generation” of TVs from manufacturers and outlets, and many of them could offer 3-D. There are many available options for how to make the illusion of a 3-D image, but the most common and viable are Shutter Glasses, Polarized Glasses, autostereoscopic TVs, and of course the classic color filter glasses. I’ll go into more detail about each a little later. All four of these options share the same basic principle, and that is fooling the brain into thinking it’s looking at a three-dimensional image, when really it’s not.
The first option if Shutter Glasses, and these are basically a large pair of battery-operated glasses that have a shutter over each eye. They then must be programmed to whatever you’re watching and will very quickly block out an image for an eye corresponding with the frame on the TV. The downside of this is that it takes batteries and it’s fairly expensive.
The second option is color filter glasses. You know, like the old paper red and blue optics you get out of cereal boxes. They are a little bit outdated, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t without their own advantages. They are very cheap, and easy to produce en masse, not to mention it’s just fun having such colorful  eye wear. But as I said, they are outdated and their problems may outweigh the benefits. They can cause nausea and headaches. And the 3-D picture quality is much lower than with the alternatives.
Next up we have Polarized Glasses, which are what have been embraced recently in movie theatres. The lenses appear similar to those of sunglasses. The way it works is that each lens is polarized differently, and the images are projected from two projectors, each having a different polarization corresponding to one of the lenses. The brain then puts together the images and produces a 3-D effect. The advantages to these are that they’re cheap, lightweight, don’t take batteries, and have excellent quality, but unfortunately nobody in the 3-D TV business has been willing to invest in them yet.
The last (and perhaps the most desirable) option is no glasses at all. This is done with a specially designed TV that uses autostereoscopy to produce what appears to be a 3-D image to our brains. This is possible because of a thin lens-like layer that will only allow each eye to see what it is supposed to, and thus providing the illusion of 3-D. Of course this isn’t without it’s drawbacks, as you have to sit at exactly the right distance or all you’ll see is a mess of images. It’s also not finished, Sharp and LG are both in the early stages of developing this, but both have working prototypes. They say these could be made available in as little as 2 years and forever change the experience of watching television adding a new definition to the phrase “the images leap out at you” and could make our current models obsolete.

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