SID 2011: It Begins…

I’m inLos Angeles, and today marks the official start of the Society for Information Display (SID) Display Week 2011. For those of you who may not be familiar with it, this is the organization for the people who do the research and development that leads to the amazing devices that let us enjoy high definition and mobile video wherever and whenever we want. This conference is great fun for me because I get to peek behind the curtains to see what will be in the products that we’ll be buying five or ten years from now. I’m here all week, and my next posts will be about some of the highlights of what I see and learn here until I’ve covered the highlights. I expect this to carry through into next week, so you may want to stay tuned for these.

While today is the official start (and it was an early start with the annual press breakfast at 7 AM), yesterday was a full-day conference on the display business, organized by the market research firm, DisplaySearch. (I would also like to point out that HDTV Magazine — which syndicates the HDTV Almanac content — was a co-sponsor of the event.) There was a lot of good content presented there, but one topic in particular stood out.

During the discussion of 3DTV, several speakers mentioned that autostereoscopic — no glasses — 3DTVs (AS-3DTV) were on the way. One analyst from DisplaySearch even said that he expects to see commercial products in the next three to five years. (He was careful not to say that he thought that they would be competitive or would perform well.) The most interesting comment came from a Sony representative, however. He explained that they got wind that competitors would be demonstrating AS-3DTV at CES 2011 last January, and they decided that they also needed to show something to be competitive. He also stated that he thought that it would be five to seven years before Sony would have an AS-3DTV product.

Perhaps even more important is what was not said. Nobody spoke about how they think that they will be able to actually make an AS-3DTV product that will work adequately for multi-viewer environments such as the average living room. I remain unconvinced that a practical AS-3DTV technology is possible that can compete with the glasses-based solutions in the foreseeable future. So when someone tells you that they are going to wait until they can get a large flat screen that does 3D without glasses, tell them that they are going to have a long, long wait.