Will 3D TVs Be Bandwidth Hogs?


For those of us old enough to remember those paper blue and red glasses, the thought of 3D TV sounds a bit like a joke. But the industry is quite serious about it, glasses and all.


It seems that 3D televisions were in great evidence at the CES show last week in Las Vegas. Marguerite Reardon at CNET quotes numbers from DisplaySearch that suggest the industry still is selling sets, but not nearly at the rate it was a year ago. The piece says set manufacturers are looking for the next big thing-after the HD craze and the upgrade to digital-that will help them weather a bad economy. 3D televisions, which don't cost much more than regular LCDs and plasmas, may be what the doctor ordered. Reardon says that most manufacturers say the sets require glasses now, but some claim they aren't needed. The industry is working toward a day when they will be unnecessary. She also said that the viewing experience was "phenomenal."


The drive to 3D for computers and televisions is pretty far along. For instance, Sky in the UK may offer services this year. This piece in TG Daily describes the two basic approaches. The full descriptions are quite interesting. The polarization method presents each eye with images created with light that is positioned 90 degrees in relation to the other. The other approach, which the writer says is more common, centers on speeding up image transmission to twice what is used today, but making every other frame invisible to each eye.


The cable, satellite and computer industries need to prepare for the advent of 3D. The Sydney Morning Herald suggests that we are on the verge of the 3D craze. At CES, Sony, Panasonic, LG, Mitsubishi and Samsung all showed 3D sets. There are 12 Pixar animation projects on the horizon; about 40 3D movies will be released during the next two years. The piece sounds a cautionary note. It says it's uncertain if people will wear the glasses and that some viewers will suffer nausea (presumably, the writer was referring to the 3D format, not the content).


Organizations that rely on the Internet should follow what is happening with 3D. EE Times India suggests that 3D may require as much as eight times the bandwidth of high definition, though the statement is a bit vague. Whatever the exact premium, all this data will be carried over wired, wireless and satellite networks. If not properly engineered and maintained, the extra demands could cause problems.


The industry currently is wrestling with the demands of IPTV and other intensive types of content. The extra bandwidth required for 3D won't be an issue at the start. But it could be down the road. This Design News piece discusses some chip moves related to 3D. The processing requirements seem steep, which suggests that networks may be called on to step up their game as well. If the category takes off in the manner of HDTV, the bandwidth equation could change quite significant in the future.