Multiple Manufacturers To Standardize On 3-D Glasses

Three of the top 3-D display manufacturers have announced plans to standardize on a type of 3-D glasses in order to facilitate cross display compatibility.

Sony, Panasonic, and Samsung are pairing with XPAND 3-D to market what they call the "Full HD 3-D Glasses Initiative." At present, each company is chasing its own glasses, and there is currently no guarantee that a TV and monitor from the same company will use the same glasses. With XPAND, the manufacturers intend to bridge this gap. Xpand already sells what it calls "Universal 3-D" glasses for a cool $129, which the manufacturers are looking to incorporate.

The standardization will also include multiple types of infrared (IR) system protocols between 3-D active glasses and 3-D displays, ranging from the protocols jointly developed by Panasonic and XPAND 3-D, to the proprietary protocols of Samsung and Sony, respectively.

The license of today's newly announced Full HD 3-D Glasses Initiative is targeted to be released in September 2011, at which time the development of new standardization-applied active 3-D glasses will begin. Universal glasses with the new IR/RF protocols will be made available in 2012, and are targeted to be backward compatible with 2011 active 3-D TVs.

"Panasonic has been working to standardize 3-D glasses technologies, and in March, we announced a joint licensing of IR system protocols with XPAND, backed by several participant companies. We are very pleased that today's latest collaboration will incorporate our previous concept into these new standardization efforts," said Masayuki Kozuka, general manager of Media & Content Alliance Office, Corporate R&D Division, Panasonic Corporation. "We hope the expanded collaboration on this 3-D standardization initiative will make a significant contribution toward accelerating the growth of 3D-related products."

A unified 3-D standard is a small step in the right direction, but neither LG nor Vizio are participating in this initiative. That makes it rather more difficult for Sony, Panasonic, and Samsung to sell this as much of a win. The new standard also makes no provision for passive 3-D glasses, a fact that may undercut consumer support. While active 3-D lenses typically deliver better visuals, the glasses themselves are generally derided as ugly and bulky.

There are also the questions of price and bundling: consumers might be more interested in buying 3-D displays if the glasses were regularly included. Including more than one pair would sweeten the deal, as unlike a monitor, TVs are regularly viewed by multiple members of a household at the same time. If a unified glasses standard helps companies drive down the price of glasses, it could help spark consumer interest in a technology that's all but failed to ignite consumer interest thus far.