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3D, Coming to a Conference Room

Is 3D video for real, or is it a fad? Does it really have any place in corporate AV? Perhaps. 3D may be all the rage at the movies and, eventually, in the home. But interestingly, pro AV markets are set up nicely for 3D adoption. Parallax View columnist Pete Putman explains why.

It's a certain bet that most 3D projector installations will rely on active-shutter technology. A single projector switches at high enough speeds to sequence the left-eye and right-eye information, making stacking unnecessary and providing the best spatial separation with minimal crosstalk. At present, the only regular demos I've seen of 3D projection have used DLP projectors, using both single-chip and three-chip light engines. DMDs can switch at extremely high speeds with no image retention problems; so active shutter 3D is a walk in the park for them.

How about LCoS and 3LCD? I have seen 3D demos on D-ILA projection systems, but nothing featuring 3LCD technology just yet. In theory, both systems should be able to handle 120-Hz refresh rates, making them compatible with active shutter glasses. In practice, the question is how much blur and image persistence would actually occur.In the flat-panel arena, the best 3D demos have relied on plasma technology. Panasonic showed live 3D imaging on a 103-inch PDP in its NAB Show booth. Samsung has also demonstrated a variety of 3D clips from video games, animation, and live HD footage. LCD monitors, however, have it tougher.

Faster refresh rates aren't a real problem for LCD, particularly with LED backlights now coming to market. LEDs can switch hundreds of times per second without breathing hard, but that extra speed is currently put to use eliminating the motion blur artifacts seen on conventional LCD displays. Whatever refresh rate is optimal for minimal blurring must then be doubled to sequence the left-eye/right-eye information. 120-Hz isn't quite fast enough to sharpen motion blur. The best hope currently for 3D on LCD displays would be a 240-Hz system doubled to 480 Hz-a system that would have to rely on LEDs at such speeds.

Despite all the qualifiers, 3D has arrived. The question is, how fast will our industry adopt it, and for which vertical markets? I'm betting education will be first out of the gate, using primarily front- and rear-projection installations. But ultimately AV pros are on the front lines of adoption. So what are you seeing?

Pete Putman is a PRO AV contributing editor and president of ROAM Consulting in Doylestown, Pa.

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