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Technology: Did you just pay thousands for your high def 3D TV? Nice Job! Your TV’s already obsolete!

Glasses-free 3D’ hits big time as Toshiba sets a date and price for 55-inch set – with a resolution FOUR TIMES hi-def

  • Array of tiny lenses ‘aims’ left eye and right eye images at each viewer
  • Face-tracking technology inside set ‘sees’ where viewers are sitting
  • Screen has a resolution of 4000×3000 pixels
  • First consumer TV with ‘4K’ resolution – even though there is no way to watch a film in 4K so far
  • Peter Jackson is to film The Hobbit in ‘4K’

By Rob Waugh

Last updated at 6:43 PM on 8th December 2011

‘Glasses-free’ 3D has taken another step towards the mainstream, as Toshiba announces a price and release date for the first large set to hit the home.

On December 10, Toshiba’s REGZA 553X is also capable of ‘4K’ resolutions – four times current hi-def sets.

Sadly, the price should ensure the ‘naked eye’ 3D set doesn’t hit the mainstream straight away – it will be £7,400, and only available in Japan. It will launch in the UK early next year, price to be confirmed.

It could mark a revolution in 3D televisions – consumers are still lukewarm about the technology, and most surveys indicate that the problem is that people aren’t comfortable wearing glasses.

Toshiba's 'naked eye' 3D set will be 55 inches, and capable of '4K' resolutions - a super-hi-def format four times the resolutions of current HD setsToshiba’s ‘naked eye’ 3D set will be 55 inches, and capable of ‘4K’ resolutions – a super-hi-def format four times the resolutions of current HD sets
The only way to watch Avatar without glasses? Toshiba's 3D sets use hi-tech 'face tracking' technology to aim left-eye and right-eye images at each viewer, using a screen composed of tiny 'lenslets'The only way to watch Avatar without glasses? Toshiba’s 3D sets use hi-tech ‘face tracking’ technology to aim left-eye and right-eye images at each viewer, using a screen composed of tiny ‘lenslets’

Unlike previous ‘glasses-free’ technologies, Toshiba’s uses a ‘face tracking’ system so that each person sees ‘perfect’ 3D.

Earlier ‘glasses free’ sets, such as ones pioneered by Philips, required you to be sat precisely in front of them to see 3D rather than a weird blur – and even then the effect was jarring and artificial.

Toshiba’s technology uses high-powered computers in the ‘back’ of the television to ‘aim’ separate beams of parallax 3D at each viewer.

‘The glasses-free 3D technology is based on the stereoscopic principle of simultaneously delivering a picture for the left eye, and another one with a small offset (parallax), for the right eye to achieve the 3D effect,’ says the company.

‘To deliver a glasses-free 3D image and experience, a range of lenticular lenslets guide the dedicated images to each viewer.The ZL2 is able to provide 3D images for up to nine different viewing positions, enabling multiple people to enjoy simultaneous 3D viewing, with no glasses required.’

The ‘lenslets’ are tiny lenses that ‘focus’ the image towards each viewers, using ‘face tracking’ to ensure each person sees a correct left eye and right eye image.

Early tech demos have been highly impressive – and Toshiba is well ahead of rival TV companies in ‘naked eye’ 3D. Most sets from rivals such as LG are around 25 inches.

‘In addition, to tailor the viewing experience to the viewers’ actual positions in front of the TV, the 55ZL2 features face tracking technology. At the touch of a button, it is able to detect the viewers’ position and to adjust the viewing zones accordingly by moving the lenslets as required.’

Companies such as Sony are already shooting films in 4K – a super-high-def resolution touted as the ‘next generation’ of high definition. Toshiba’s set is the first consumer TV with the technology – although there are no video players on the market capable of showing anything in 4K, or even any discs stored in the format.

The TV can also ‘upscale’ any 2D content into 3D – although it remains to be seen how convincing this function is. Other televisions’ attempts to ‘upscale’ into 3D have looked unconvincing.

What’s Next? free standing hologram TV that looks like people are in your living room?

Can George Lucas predict the future?

This is amazing technology, by the way before you spend thousands of dollars on a new 3D TV you might want to get a depth perception test. It would really suck if you find out you don’t have depth perception after spending thousands.

The ad is true people do not want to wear glasses just to watch TV especially those of us that don’t normally wear glasses, also what do you do if you wear glasses? The 3D TV’s I have seen have glasses that look like sunglasses, they can’t fit over or clip to existing glasses.  I wonder if this technology will have adverse effects on health: will watching 3D TV regularly cause loss of vision or depth perception? Will it enhance depth Perception? Will parents still say don’t sit too close to the TV you will go blind!

There is no doubt that this technology will be in the US and will someday, very soon, maybe in the next 5-10yrs it will be affordable. When HDTV and digital cable first came out, people said there is no way I’m going to pay to replace all my TV’s, but there is no more analog TV and just look at the HDTV and 3D TV sales.

What will be next? I don’t know, but the future is bright……………. and high def 3D!

PS Peter Jackson: Hurry up with the Hobbit already!!!

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