What Is 3D TV ?

What is 3D TV is a question that many consumers are asking now that a number of manufacturers are introducing a range of 3D televisions.

A 3D television unit employs a 3D screen for displaying its images. A 3D display is a unique device for viewing that showcases images in a three dimensional field, making them appear closer to life. This is enabled by innovative 3D display technologies incorporated in these television units.

Most 3D TV external design elements are similar to those of other high definition TVs, and usually a 3D TV has a 2D mode too. With this feature, users can switch between 3D and 2D viewing, depending on the preference and the content that they are viewing. When the 3D television mode is on, viewers have to wear 3D glasses that bring out the 3D nature of the images. Technology used in 3D eyewear works together with that of 3D displays to create the desired effect.

A Revolutionary yet Affordable Technology

The key reason why so many people are now asking what is 3D TV is that the technology is already finding its way into people's living rooms. With the help of innovative techniques that facilitate and enhance 3D viewing in TVs, consumers can view 3D television programs and movies at home, and that too at an affordable price.

You can also enjoy enhanced video game playing experience, which is one of the biggest growth drivers of the 3D TV market. Since the 3D technology went mainstream, many television manufacturing companies have come up with feature-rich 3D television sets that are perfect for a home theatre system.

For quite some time, 3D television manufacturers employed technology that was not standardized. However, in 2009, the Blu-ray Disc Association approved 3D encoding standards for Blu-ray discs. With this standardization, 3D Blu-ray discs became capable of feeding 3D signals to all 3D enabled television units, giving a major boost to the 3D TV market.

Another question that you may have is - what is 3D television with the label ‘3D ready’. The 3D ready label is used to signify that the television unit meets the requirements for displaying 3D content. However, the content that you view on the TV will need to be in 3D format. Otherwise, the TV will revert to its 2D mode and just show images in two dimensions.

How is the 3D Effect Created

The two vital elements related to the 'what is 3D TV' discussion are: 3D displays and 3D TV Glasses - which work together to create 3D effect.

3D display devices have the ability to offer 3D depth in images of stereoscopic nature. These displays are capable of offsetting images showed independently to the viewer’s right and left eye. This way, when the brain processes the location of the two images, it is tricked into believing that the image has depth.

Nevertheless, the image focal points and convergence points are different from those when the viewer is looking at a real object. In 3D viewing, the viewer’s eyes converge two images that appear to be in front of him. However, in reality the images are displayed on a screen, which is at a different distance from what is perceived by the eyes.

3D Glasses

Currently there are two types of 3D glasses - passive and active. Passive 3D eyewear incorporates the use of anaglyph images. An example of glasses using anaglyph images is those with red and blue lenses. These glasses were popular a few years ago for 3D viewing. They would filter images in either red or blue, and create a 3D effect.

Another type of passive lenses for 3D viewing is polarized lenses. These passive lenses are often used in theatres when they are showing 3D movies. With this, each lens will create a distinct polarized image by blocking the image that is polarized in the opposite direction. The polarization filter in these lenses allows only those light waves that are polarized in the same direction. This method generates a 3D effect in colour. It is more effective and of better quality than the older technique of using red and blue lenses.

What is 3D TV Active eyewear? An example of active 3D eyewear is one that is mostly used with LCD screens these days. It incorporates shutter glasses that close and open in a manner similar to a camera.

This eyewear uses frame sequential display method, in which images on the television are broken down by the 3D eyewear into a series of alternating frames. Each alternate frame contains an image for a particular eye. So, if frames 1, 3 and 5 contain images for the left eye, 2, 4 and 6 will contain images for the right. The two sets of images are displayed consecutively and rapidly so that the frames are processed quickly before the brain discovers flickers in the lenses.

The glasses open and close in this manner as they are synced through an outboard hardware. This method brings down media frame rate. So a 120Hz LCD TV when paired with these glasses will create images at 60Hz. The latest models of these lenses can connect wirelessly with a television set via infra red sensors.

Future of 3D TV Technology

Along with knowing what is 3D TV, you should also know how this technology is evolving and what you can expect from it in future. Presently, 3D television units from almost all manufacturers require viewers to use 3D eyewear to get the best viewing experience. Most viewers are however unhappy with the inconvenience of wearing these glasses and 3D TV manufacturers are already developing technology for 3D viewing without the glasses.

In this context, one of the biggest advancements in 3D technology is the use of a special screen. This screen sends distinct images to each eye. Also known as lenticular or autostereoscopic technology, it displays images in columns. They employ a special lens or a parallax barrier that generates 3D effect without the use of 3D glasses.

Read more about the History of 3D TV.

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