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Five technologies that will change the face of IT

USB 3.0, 3DTV and other technologies

We look at five technologies that look set to become part of every day lives very soon, to find out how they'll change our lives.

3D TV

Disconnecting your active-shutter 3D glasses from a charger, you slip them on, eager to check out your downloaded copy of Hulk VI: Triumph of the Stretch Fabrics, the latest entrant in the green antihero's film franchise.

You drop into a comfy chair, tell the kids it's time for a movie, and twist the heat pouch on a bag of popcorn to start it popping. The kids grab their own glasses and sit down to watch the Hulk knock the Predator practically into their laps!

When television makers introduced HDTVs, it was inevitable that they would figure out a way to render the technology obsolete not long after everyone bought a set. And they have. The next wave in home viewing is 3DTV - a 2D picture with some stereoscopic depth.

As 3D filmmaking and film projection technology have improved, Hollywood has begun building a (still small) library of depth-enhanced movies.

The potential to synthesise 2D movies into 3D could feed demand, however - the way colorising technology increased interest in black-and-white films in some circles in the 1980s.

For movies based on computer animation - such as Toy Story 3D, a newly rendered version of the first two movies in the series - it's already happening.

The promise of 3D is a more immersive, more true-to-life experience, and substantively different from almost anything you've watched before.

In commercial theaters, 3D projection typically involves superimposing polarised or distinctly colored images on each frame and then having viewers wear so-called "passive" glasses that reveal different images to each eye.

The brain synthesises the two images into a generally convincing notion of depth.

In contrast, 3D at home will almost certainly rely on alternating left and right views for successive frames.

HDTVs that operate at 120Hz (that is, 120 cycles of refresh per second) are broadly available, so the ability to alternate left and right eye images far faster than the human eye can follow already exists.

Fundamental industry standards are in place to allow such recording, says Alfred Poor, an analyst with GigaOm and the author of the website HDTV Almanac.

Viewing 3DTV displays will require 'active' glasses that use rapidly firing shutters to alternate the view into each eye.

Active glasses are expensive today, but their price will drop as 3D rolls out. Meanwhile, designers are in the development phase of producing a 3D set that doesn't require the glasses.

Sony and Panasonic have announced plans to produce 3D-capable displays, and Panasonic recently demonstrated a large-screen version that the company expects to ship in 2010.

As happened when HDTVs rolled out, premium 3DTVs will appear first, followed by Progressively more-affordable models.
Creating and distributing enough 3D content to feed consumers' interest may be more of a challenge.

Poor noted that filmmakers are currently making or adapting only a handful of features each year for 3D. But techniques to create 'synthetic 3D' versions of existing films (using various tracking, focus, and pattern cues for splitting images) could fill the gap.

NEXT PAGE: More on 3D TV

  1. USB 3.0, 3DTV and other technologies could change the way we live
  2. More on USB 3.0
  3. Video streaming over Wi-Fi
  4. Where 802.11ad comes in
  5. 3D TV
  6. More on 3D TV
  7. 'Augmented Reality' in mobile devices
  8. More on augmented reality
  9. HTML5


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