Bring the 3D experience to your living room

According to its gross income, James Cameron's Avatar was the biggest film in the history of movie-making. Fuelling that incredible success was a not-so-new technology called 3D, an element first introduced to theater-goers in the 1950s but refined and re-introduced over the last couple of years. The success of Avatar was largely based on its impressive use of the technology, and later movies, including Alice in Wonderland and Clash of the Titans, have aroused considerable fanfare by using 3D, too. Thus, it was only a matter of time before tech leaders decided to bring this technology right into the average American living room.

Advertiser Links for 3DTV

Three-dimensional television, or 3DTV, is now becoming one of the most popular options for home entertainment. Almost all of the major television manufacturers -- including Sony, Toshiba, Panasonic and Samsung -- have introduced their own versions, with screen sizes ranging from 40 to 60 inches in diameter. Of course, prices for these awe-inspiring devices started quite high (about $4,000 each), but thankfully, they're now plummeting to a more affordable range and may soon be only a tad higher than the cost of an average LCD screen.

Types of 3D Viewing

As mentioned, the first 3D movies were introduced in the early 1950s as movie studios sought new ways to attract film lovers in affluent post-war America. But the technology fizzled by the 1960s, lying dormant until the first decade of the 21st century, when studios looked for new ways to overcome several obstacles to success, including a declining economic outlook and increasing video piracy.

Several different types of 3DTV are popular in the theaters and in the home viewing experience. They include:

  • Anaglyphic 3D, in which the viewer uses passive red-cyan glasses to view images
  • Polarization 3D, in which passive polarized glasses are used
  • Alternate-frame sequencing 3D, which employs active shutter lenses
  • Autostereoscopic displays, which don't require any lenses at all

Glasses Here to Stay – For Now

Autostereoscopic technology represents the future of home 3DTV because it deflects significant costs. At the moment, 3D glasses required for most 3DTV home viewing experiences cost over $100, a significant investment on top of the price of the television and specialized 3D Blu ray player. Unfortunately, autostereoscopic 3D remains incredibly expensive, so it may not be available for the average living room for a few years yet.