3DFusion aims to remove glasses to watch 3D

3DFusion will soon release firmware and software tools so that viewers can watch 3D content without glasses

A New York company is developing technology so that 3D images can be seen on high-definition screens without the need for viewers to wear special glasses.

3DFusion's technology allows users to watch 3D content on 2D screens from different angles, without glasses and without sacrificing image quality, according to the company. The underlying imaging technology includes firmware for televisions and software tools to remaster 2D or stereoscopic 3D signals.

The company's products can also convert content to 3D for viewing with glasses, but the objective is to make it so glasses aren't needed, said Ilya Sorokin, CEO of 3DFusion.

The company's technology has been under development for four years and the converted 3D images look deeper and crisp, Sorokin said.

"We can get you now to a comfort level where you can watch 3D without glasses and not say 'I'm sacrificing something,'" Sorokin said.

The company will bring its technology to market in a few months. It will initially target business-specific areas such as digital signage, where the margins are high, Sorokin said.

Secondary focus is being placed on the consumer market. The company is not yet ready to handle large volumes and thin margins generated from sales of consumer TV sets, Sorokin said. But the technology is not expensive to implement in existing TVs, so it could be licensed to manufacturers.

Glasses-free 3D TVs are still being researched by companies, and it could be years before affordable TV sets reach the market, said Lawrence Gasman, principal analyst and founder of NanoMarkets. 3DFusion's software-based technology could be useful for those who don't want to wait for glasses-free 3D screens.

"Television technology is notorious for taking a long time to happen," Gasman said. TV makers talked about OLED (organic light emitting diode) screens for years, but the displays are finally being delivered in volume, Gasman said.

Consumer electronics companies such as Toshiba and Samsung are pursuing glasses-free 3D TVs. Toshiba in December will start shipping TVs in 12-inch and 20-inch models, but viewers are limited to specific angles for optimal 3D viewing. Samsung is developing glasses-free 3D TVs, but has said that such TVs are five years out as the panels are expensive to manufacture. Samsung has also said that current glasses-free 3D TVs show low-resolution images that are easily distorted if a viewer moves.

New screen technologies are first used in areas with high profit margins and then trickle to consumers as the cost becomes palatable, said Sanju Khatri , principal analyst for digital signage and public information displays at iSuppli. That happened with plasma screens, which were first used in areas such as digital signage and then in consumer electronics as prices fell.

3DFusion may bide its time before delivering the technology to consumers, Khatri said. 3DFusion's technology applies well to advertisements on large screens, Khatri said. Removing glasses from the 3D equation makes it easier for mobile viewers to watch advertisements.

"If the content showing does not provide the 3D effect, viewer engagement won't be there," Khatri said.

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