CES 2011: Glasses-Free 3D Set Top Box Demonstrated

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LAS VEGAS - iPont International (booth 25304) is promoting the concept of glasses-free 3DTV at International CES by showing a fully functioning set top box that can handle live 3D TV feeds, streaming 3D internet content and 3D Blu-ray for new auto-stereoscopic screens.

Slated for delivery by the end of the first quarter of 2011, the Glasses-Free 3D1 will be distributed by an unnamed U.S. partner that is also supplying an auto-stereoscopic 3D display that can connect to the box to complete the presentation in the home.

The company said the initial version of the device was actually be placed in an operating PC, "so we can integrate these features in a PC format as well.  It was a strategic decision to combine everything into a small, easy-to-use set top box that will be the union of all 3D viewing in the home theater," said Andor Pasztor, iPont's chief technology officer.

The company expects to market the set-top for approximately $1,311 (1,000 euros).

"To achieve the best viewing experience, the customer will also need to purchase an excellent auto-stereoscopic TV," Pasztor explained. "We recommend displays manufactured by Tridelity, and use their displays for our own viewing."

The Tridelity displays, he said, allow for multiple viewing angles of up to 120 degrees.

"There is no need to sit directly in the middle of the screen, or worry about moving your head, you can see the 3D effect from a wide range of angles," he said.

As for content, Pasztor said material produced with the intention of being shown in 3D will usually be superior to most converted 2D content.

"This is as much an art as it is a science, so the quality of the designers involved in transferring can make all the difference. At iPont, on top of hiring skilled artisans, we are developing cutting-edge conversion technologies that hope to produce the best 2D to 3D experiences available on the market."

iPont expects to be able to convert streaming stereoscopic 3D TV feeds (ESPN, DirecTV movie channels, Sky3D) for viewing on auto-stereoscopic displays. 

"We can also convert online streamed content, such as YouTube. Other online TV channels come next, and then HDCP Broadcast TV channels, like ESPN3D," Pasztor said. "For existing 2D material, we prefer to convert the actual source file offline for viewing back through 3D Blu-ray players".

He said artifacts can result when stereo input content lacks quality, because "the important principles of good content quality are not fulfilled, such as proper dual-camera alignment, or problems with angles and distance.

"There are several rules that have to be considered. Recent movies are good quality. Many minor problems we manage in an algorithmic way. There are some minor problems when background and foreground scenes are almost the same look, when the human eye has difficulty differentiating," said Pasztor. "We will show our algorithms working on 80 percent completeness giving very good images in most cases.  We will minimize artifacts by adding algorithms."

iPont is initially targeting as early customers businesses that sell a visual experience.

"Specifically, we view the entertainment vertical that would include sports bars, arcades, cinemas, theme parks and restaurants, and casinos as key to getting this technology out in front of people," he said. "As potential home users experience the technology in these environments, we feel we will seed the market for home usage in the near future."


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