New 3-D casts aside special glasses

by Kazuaki Nagata

While electronic makers are scrambling to release 3-D TVs, three-dimensional display technology that requires no special glasses is getting a lot of attention at a trade fair that kicked off Wednesday.

“Hollywood content has been going to 3-D, and I think that wave has come to Japan,” Kiyoto Kanda, president and CEO of Tokyo-based Newsight Japan Ltd., said during Display 2010 at Tokyo Big Sight in Koto Ward.

His company is exhibiting a 70-inch 3-D display, which the company says is one of the world’s largest. Unlike large 3-D TVs produced by big names such as Panasonic Corp. and Sony Corp. that require special glasses, people can watch three-dimensional images on Newsight’s display unaided.

The trick is a special filter called a parallax barrier that is placed on a display panel. The filter works like 3-D glasses because the content projected through it is separated into images for the right and left eyes.

Kanda said special glasses are one option for 3-D, but it is hard for people to do something else when watching TV while wearing them, and some people might want to do two things at the same time.

“I came to this event to check out this display,” said a man in his 50s who works for a company that creates images for various events.

He said the display still needs improvement because fast-moving images lack sharpness and watching it causes eye fatigue.

But he praised its potential, saying “this is pretty amazing with this size of display. . . . If it improves, I think people can really enjoy it at home.”

VMJ Inc., another Tokyo-based company, is exhibiting its 3-D imaging technology with a parallax barrier for a 65-inch display.

While momentum for 3-D is growing, the parallax barrier technology is still costly, so one major hurdle to overcome is producing and selling it at a more reasonable price, a VMJ sales division director said.

Newsight Japan’s 70-inch display is expected to be priced at about ¥3 million. VMJ Inc.’s 65-inch version will go for around ¥3 million and a 22-inch display will be in the ¥200,000 neighborhood.

Meanwhile, Kanda stressed that 3-D can help boost Japan’s electronics industry amid fierce global competition.

“We should use 3-D as a keyword to revitalize Japan’s electronics industry and bring out the potential of many companies,” he said.

Other display technologies, including electronic paper, touch panels and organic EL displays, are also being exhibited at the fair, which runs through Friday.