Avalanche of 3D TVs, Technology from Panasonic, RealD at CES

Vendors at this year's Consumer Electronics Show (CES) paved the way for 3D entertainment in the home, with announcements from Toshiba, IMAX, Sony, Samsung and Panasonic.

On the heels of the massive success of the 3D sci-fi film "Avatar," the future of 3D entertainment in the home theater moved several steps closer at this year's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

3D technology leader RealD announced agreements with some of the industry's top consumer electronics brands, including Sony, JVC, Samsung, Toshiba and Panasonic, to support the stereoscopic RealD Format for the delivery and display of high-definition 3D in the home. Many of these companies said they will also work with RealD to develop premium active (shutter) glasses and passive glasses compatible with their 3D-enabled displays.

Toshiba said it plans to introduce 3D into its Regza lineup of Full-HD LCD TVs in 2010, and RealD recently announced an alliance for the integrated support of the stereoscopic RealD Format into Sony's Bravia LCD high-definition TVs and other upcoming consumer products, as well as with JVC for its LCD monitors, Samsung for its lineup of 3D TVs and Panasonic for the company's Full HD 3D Viera TVs.

The RealD Format is a proprietary version of a side-by-side 3D format that uses a set of technologies to multiplex a left eye and right eye 3D image stream into a single channel. The RealD Format is capable of delivering high-definition 3D content to any 3D-enabled display type using current HD infrastructure.

After the slew of partners was revealed, an avalanche of 3D technologies, partnerships and products was unleashed at the show, including announcements from Technicolor, which introduced several innovations to support the consumer electronic industry's migration to 3D, including technologies for Blu-ray 3D, broadcast 3D, 3D subtitling, and auto-stereoscopic 3D delivery to mobile handsets. In addition, Samsung, DreamWorks Animation and Technicolor announced a global strategic alliance for the delivery of "a complete 3D home entertainment solution" in 2010.

Also, Discovery Communications, Sony and IMAX announced plans to launch the first 24/7 dedicated 3D television network in the United States, with a goal of driving consumer adoption of 3D televisions and giving the network long-term leadership in the 3D home marketplace. In the future, the companies also will explore international distribution opportunities in selected markets. Discovery will provide network services, including affiliate sales and technical support functions, as well as 3D television rights to Discovery content and cross-promotion across its portfolio of 13 U.S. television networks.

Sony will provide advertising/sponsorship sales support, and will seek to license television rights to current and future 3D feature films, music-related 3D content and game-related 3D content, while providing cross-promotion at retail stores. IMAX also will license television rights to future 3D films, promotion through its owned-and-operated movie theaters across the United States, and a suite of proprietary and patented image enhancement and 3D technologies.

In December, the Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA) announced the finalization and release of the Blu-ray 3D specification, laying the groundwork for 3D entertainment at home. The Blu-ray 3D specification is also designed to allow Sony PS3 game consoles to play back Blu-ray 3D content in 3D. Additionally, the specification supports playback of 2D discs in forthcoming 3D players and can enable 2D playback of Blu-ray 3D discs on the installed base of Blu-ray Disc players.