Sharp takes 3D to New Dimensions

Since 3D glasses were first invented in 1953, the 50s and 60s became the “golden age” of 3D viewing, which became a prominent feature of American cinema. 3-dimensional technology has since fallen in and out of popularity. At present we are witnessing a renewed surge in demand for the surreally realistic experiences 3D technology offers, so much so that we are embarking on a second golden age of stereoscopic production and screening.

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Picture courtesy of Flickr user jimf0390

Sharp is at the heart of 3D’s ‘second revolution’, with the announcement of a stunning range of 3D products, covering diverse media formats, which makes you wonder how some of these products could possibly encrypt 3D conventions. Particularly perplexing is the inclusion of 3D mobile phones as part of Sharp’s ambitious 3D tech range. Proudly fronting the range is what has been dubbed as “the next generation of mobile phones”, whose 3-inch liquid crystal display screen plays 3D animations, touch screen panel flicks through a gallery of 3D pictures, and a smaller screen connects to a 3D video camera.

In the second wave of a technological love affair with 3D, 3-dimenional TV sets are at the vanguard, with companies cavernously competing and vying to create the best 3D effect. The presence of many 3D sets on display at this year’s CEF vouches for the contemporary demand for 3D television. Although it has to be said Sharp have ‘got the edge’ in the 3D TV stakes, with the unveiling of the world’s first 3D LCD TV, which uses four primary colors instead of three. Using CG-Silicon technology, Sharp claims its new 3D LCD TV is 80 percent brighter than standard models and is the brightest in the industry.

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But let’s cut to the chase, as the biggest beauty of Sharp’s 3D range is that the Japanese manufacturing giants have kissed goodbye to having to wear the red and yellow 3D glasses, which became synonymous with being found in cereal packets on the 1980s. The most off-putting feature of 3D viewing is the prospect of having to wear these ‘jester’ glasses in order to capture the 3D experience. Recognizing users’ objections to looking foolish and technologically banal, Sharp developed CG-Silicon technology, which shrinks the size of wiring, enables a brightness of 500 cd/m2, which is twice the brightness of previous 3D mobile displays. Incorporating a display known as parallax 3D, Sharp’s ingenious 3D applications can be electrically switched from their autostereoscopic mode, which provides 3D vision without the need for glasses, and a full resolution 2D mode – You can believe it when you read Sharp have been studying this technology since 1992!

Rumor has it that Sharp’s unrivalled monopoly in the field of 3D will equip Nintendo’s forthcoming 3DS gaming console, which is due to be released next spring and will feature games in 3D, although this has yet to have been confirmed and remains speculation. Although one thing is for sure, if Sharp is involved with Nintendo’s new portable, it will promise to be a spectacular spectacle without the need for spectacles.

Panasonic’s DMP-BDT300 enters 3D Blu-ray market

We’ve already reported on how Samsung were first out of the blocks with their 3D Blu-ray player, but as you might expect their competitors have not been far behind and so it comes as no surprise to see Panasonic enter the fray with the launch of their very own player.

The DMP-BDT300 will be the company’s first Full HD 3D Blu-ray player as the home entertainment giants jostle to provide us with an increasingly immersive entertainment experience. Panasonic boast that their player features the brand new, exclusively developed UniPhier LSI chip, which helps to process the large volume of Full HD 3D movies. This new UniPhier enables the player to output Full HD images in 1920×1080 resolutions in the so-called frame-sequential method. With this method, the images for left and right eye are displayed in alteration in order to create 3D images, which all sounds pretty impressive.

As you might expect Pansonic promises unrivalled picture quality whether you’re watching movies in all three dimensions or the customary two dimensional output that we’ll one day get nostalgic about. Like seemingly all modern players though, Panasonic have furnished the device with a wireless connection with which you can access a world of apps and widgets to keep you constantly connected with the outside world. It’s a strange idea that seems at odds against the totally immersive home cinema experience that they’re pedalling, and one which I imagine will rely heavily on the type of content they’ve got up their digital sleeves, but for those with the set up the ability to stream content direct from your home network will be appealing.

Whether Panasonic will trump Samsung in the battle for your living room remains to be seen, but we can only welcome the competition and hope that more players will come on the market to drive down what will undoubtedly be an expensive piece of kit.

Samsung first to mass-produce 3D panels

Things are getting serious when it comes to 3DTV, with pretty much all the big companies showing off 3D-ready TVs at CES. Samsung seems to be beating them all, though, by actually ramping up full production of 40-inch, 46-inch and 55-inch 3D panels. Samsung is producing standard LCD panels as well as LED panels, presumably meaning there will be 3DTVs available for a range of budgets.

The 3D technology at work here uses Active Shutter glasses, rather than the polarisation techniques used for James Cameron’s Avatar and other 3D films at the cinema. The reason for this is that polarised glasses only allow you to see the image at sub-high definition quality, due to the fact that the glasses are filtering half of the image to each eye at a given time.

Systems using Active Shutter glasses are a little more complicated, but allow 3D viewing in full 1080p HD. A screen with a high refresh rate (at least double the 24-frames-per-second 2D films are shown in) displays each frame from the film twice – once from the left eye’s perspective and once from the right eye’s. The Active Shutter glasses literally close off the lens over the right eye when the image appropriate to the left eye is shown, and then vice versa. That little sequence is repeated thousands of time a minute, which means that there can be a visible flickering using this technique.

Fortunately, Samsung has planned to conquer the flicker by offering high refresh rates of 240Hz and an extremely low pixel response time of 4ms (though not as low as Plasma TVs are capable of).

One big reason why Samsung producing 3D panels is good news is that Samsung has been known to supply panels to other TV manufacturers. Previously, Samsung has been known to work with Sony sharing panel technology in their HDTVs, and has also provided the guts for Dell monitors. Two of the other biggest suppliers are Sharp and LG, so when these three all get 3D production in full swing we’ll see all sorts of 3D-ready TVs to go with the advent of 3D Blu-rays.

Samsung quotes research from DisplaySearch that 3D TV sales will pass the million-mark during 2010, and will be selling nearly 10 million units per year by 2012. That’s not unreasonable if we assume that most TVs produced then will have 3D abilities as standard, but as with high definition, the choice of content could take some time to catch up.

uPrint SE Plus 3D printer unveiled by Stratasys

Just one year ago, Stratasys introduced their first 3D printer, the Dimension uPrint, which became the world’s best selling printer. This year, not content at being the market leaders in 3D printing technology, the company has exceeded their printer product supremacy by producing the uPrint Plus – an enhanced version of the original, with heaps of additional features.

If printers can be attractive, then the uPrint Plus is about as attractive as they come. The printer possesses a neat display panel, which not only shows users at a glance its current status, but also allows for direct user interaction to adjust operations.

These operations are at the height of sophistication and precision in the field of 3D printing. After heating solid threads of modeling and support material into a semi-liquid condition, the extrusion head then makes exceptionally precise movements to deposit the materials onto the modeling base, the platform on which each model is printed. Two material bays sit neatly underneath the printer, ready to collect meticulously produced material.

Check out this intro video:

One of the key improvements of the uPrint Plus is that it can print eight different colours of Stratasys ANSplus material, including black, red, blue, dark grey, olive, ivory, fluorescent yellow and nectarine. This vast assortment of colour enables designers to distinguish individual components and ultimately gives them a greater illustration of their designs.

Stratasys are assertively promoting their latest extension in 3D printing as still being available for under $20,000 (£12, 280 approximately). At this price, it is obvious that this printer is ‘slightly’ exclusive, and is intended to be used by professional designers, engineers and architects. 3D printing is quite ‘magical’ to watch at the best of times. But with its smart and stylish appearance and multitude of new features, those professionals who place a uPrint Plus printer amongst their design tackle, will not only look like they mean business, but will give them greater evaluation of design concepts and extended options for crafting models based on 3D printing technology.

The new uPrint Plus is not available for shipment until March, when it will be available through authorized Stratasys resellers.

Samsung first out of blocks with 3D Blu-ray

Unless you’ve been living underground for the past month, you’ve probably heard or read about Avatar, James Cameron’s 3D epic that’s been wowing audiences and breaking box office records around the globe. This visual masterpiece is the latest in a number of fully immersive offerings as Hollywood seeks to up the entertainment stakes. With the increasing popularity of 3D on the silver screen the race has been on for manufacturers to bring the technology to our living rooms.

Currently leading the field is Samsung. The manufacturer was the first to introduce the technology in 2007 with the launch of the world’s first 3D capable plasma television, and over the past two years has been investing heavily in 3D image processing. Now, entertainment enthusiasts can enjoy the fruits of this labour in the BD-C6900, one of five new Blu-ray players launched by the manufacturer in Las Vegas last week and winner of the 2010 CES Best of Innovations Award.

With Blu-ray players now starting to become old hat, 3D Blu-ray is the next big thing in home entertainment and Samsung’s new player will be the first to feature built-in 3D playback. The player is compatible with Samsung’s new 3D HDTVs and upcoming 3D Blu-ray disks, but as you’d expect from a top of the range model it’s also a big step up from current 2D players and promises unrivalled picture quality and faster loading times. It even looks the part and alongside its sleek and stylish design it’s even got a transparent cover that allows you to see the disk spin as it plays. Like the manufacturer’s new TVs the player also shows off the latest incarnation of the Internet@TV platform which provides viewers with a gateway to a multitude of entertainment ranging from Video, Music, Social Networking, News and Games.

It’s the first out of the blocks as far as 3D Blu-ray goes and the finer details and price are still to be announced but the BD-C900 certainly offers a tantalizing glimpse into the future of home entertainment.