3DTV Active Glasses Standard in the Works

Standards are great. It means that you can buy one set of wrenches and you can use them to work on any car or truck. Unless the car uses hardware built to a different standard. So maybe you need two sets of wrenches to work on cars. It looks as though we may be headed to just two types of 3D glasses for televisions, which is still a Good Thing because you will probably be able to use your existing glasses with a new television. We just need a standard for passive glasses and another for active (shutter) glasses.

The problem with standards is that you need some clout to make them stick in a market. I remember when the personal computer industry settled on a 3″ floppy disk standard to replace the larger 5.25″ disks, but Sony chose to produce its own 3.5″ design instead. After a couple design wins with Hewlett Packard and some other companies, it was game over and the official “standard” never got off the ground.

The good news in this case is that we have three companies working on a standard who should have the numbers to make it happen. From the television side, Panasonic, Samsung, and Sony are joining forces on the project. On the glasses side, they are working with XPAND 3D which is the company that came out with “universal” shutter glasses.

The group has named their project the “Full HD 3D Glasses Initiative” which is a bit of a mouthfull, but the acronym FH3GI would be worse so I guess it will have to do. The “Full HD” part is a not-at-all-subtle jab at the passive glasses 3DTVs that only deliver half the image resolution to each eye. (Never mind that many of the encoding approaches use half-resolution frames for each eye to begin with, so you may not be getting full high definition with either set of glasses.) The resulting standard will use both infrared (IR) and radio frequency (RF) connections between the glasses and the display. The RF part will use Bluetooth technology, and eliminates the line-of-site connection between the glasses and display that is required for IR communications. The group hopes to have new universal glasses available in 2012, and they will be backward compatible with existing 2011 models.

The big benefit of this cooperation should be that manufacturers will be able to do one-stop-shopping for the licenses and technology required make glasses or television sets that are compatible with the standard. This in turn could lead to increased production and competition, which in turn should result in lower prices at just about the time that the average consumers are deciding that there is something that they really want to watch in 3D.