Taiwanese group sees 3D LCD TVs

A Taiwanese research group has developed 3D television picture technology that can be used on LCD TVs as big as 42 inches, and believes such TVs will be on sale within two years.

Engineers at Taiwan’s Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) have already developed prototypes of Polarised 3D Displays in two LCD TV screen sizes, 32-inch and 42-inch.

The technology is almost ready to be turned over to private companies for marketing and sales, says Tsai Chao-hsu, project manager of 3D display technology at ITRI.

After the technology is in private hands, much of the timing of getting 3D LCD TVs to market will depend on the company, but should still be within a year or two, Tsai adds.

Users have to wear special polarised glasses for a clear 3D picture. Two prototype TVs shown off here worked well, but engineers say that they are still perfecting the technology to increase colour saturation and to make the picture clearer.

ITRI believes the TVs could be popular for 3D gaming and for watching movies.

ITRI is a publicly funded research organisation in Taiwan. It helps to develop new technologies and often works with companies to speed up product development.

Once a self-developed technology is ready for the market, ITRI signs deals with private companies to take over the technology for marketing and sales.

The 3D TVs work by attaching a micro-retardation array on the front of the LCD panel. This does not add significant cost to the production of the TV, says Tsai.

"The material cost for the extra components… is very low. However, the price will depend on the market policy of the company. Over the long term, their price will be just a little higher than their 2D counterparts," adds Tsai.

Any LCD panel can be used with the micro-retarder, but it has to be built onto to the screen during production and cannot be added to existing sets.

ITRI is already talking with a few companies about taking on sales and marketing of 3D TVs, says Steven Yang, a researcher in ITRI’s 3D display department, but he declines to provide further details, citing non-disclosure agreements.

The Taiwanese group is also using micro-retarders on a 3D digital photo frame that is 3D to the naked eye. No polarised glasses are needed. But that product is a long way from being ready, and gave this reporter a headache from looking at it.

ITRI engineers put the micro-retarder behind the LCD panel, but in front of the backlight on the digital photo frame to create the 3D effect, says Yang.

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Taiwanese group sees 3D LCD TVs