Sony has ramped up its efforts to make 3D entertainment the next big consumer technology in the home, with a series of announcements designed to position the Japanese consumer electronics giant as the only company capable of delivering 3D "from the lens to the living room".
At a launch event in London, Sony showed off new 3D Bravia televisions, 3D Blu-ray players and 3D cameras, while announcing that a 3D update for its PlayStation 3 (PS3) games console will be available tomorrow. PS3 owners are able to upgrade their consoles to 3D with a firmware update, although they'll need a 3D-capable TV to enjoy the new content.
The PS3 announcement has been anticipated for months, and forms part of Sony's plan to put a device capable of delivering 3D content in as many homes as possible.
Christian Brown, senior category marketing manager for Sony Home Entertainment, quoted research from Future Source Consulting predicting that 3D will be fully embraced by UK consumers over the next four years, with 40 percent of new TVs sold capable of delivering 3D by 2014.
As well as using the PS3 to deliver content to 3DTVs in the home, Sony hopes 3D Blu-ray players will start to take hold over the next couple of years. Seven out of eight Sony Blu-ray models this year will be able to play back 3D, said Brown.
"Even if [home users] don't want to adopt the technology now, this allows them to have a future-proofed solution," said Brown.
But Sony is also catering for those who are keen to experience 3D sooner rather than later. Tomorrow, Sony Computer Entertainment Europe will release four 3D stereoscopic titles through the PlayStation Network, and they'll be available to download free when buying a Sony 3D TV. The four titles are WipEout HD, SuperStardust HD, PAIN, MotorStorm Pacific Rift. The first three are full games and the latter is a demo version.
On the Bu-ray DVD front, the Sony Pictures Home Entertainment film Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs is one of a number of titles on the way. It will be bundled with selected Sony 3D products and available to buy separately from the 14 June 2010.
Sony Music UK's Paul Bursche said the technology was also destined to revolutionise music videos. The video for Waka Waka by Shakira - the official FIFA World Cup song - has been recorded in 3D and more of the same is on the way. Videos from Sony's back catalogue – including a recording of a live Jimmy Hendrix concert – are being remastered to exploit the 3D capabilities of the new generation of TVs.
Sony said it was also seeing an increasing commitment to 3D from Hollywood studios, with 20 major releases expected this year and more than 30 in 2011. Jordan Peters, head of product marketing for Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, said that if smaller budget movies are included, more than 100 3D movies will have been released by the end of 2012.
The arrival of these titles is helping boost demand for 3D cinemas, too. There were 7,000 3D cinemas globally at the end of 2009; that figure will hit 16,000 by the end of this year, said Peters.
Sony executives also took the opportunity to discuss Sony's involvement in the production of 3D movies and in filming 3D sports events such as the 2010 FIFA World Cup, which kicks off in South Africa tomorrow. Twenty-five World Cup matches will be filmed in 3D using Sony camera rigs and 3D processing technology.
Sony said that given that it controlled the technology to record, process and deliver 3D to the living room, it is the only company with expertise and experience in every part of the 3D ecosystem.