Toshiba to sell glasses-free 3D televisions


Toshiba announced that it will begin selling two models of 3D televisions which do not require viewers to wear special glasses. Retail sales will begin in December in Japan, but there’s no word on when they might become available in the US.

The Toshiba announcement Monday (10/4) confirmed earlier reports that the company was on the verge of bringing the new sets to market.

“The new ‘Glasses-less 3D REGZA GL1’ series offers two models with screen sizes specifically designed for personal use: the 20-inch 20GL1 and the 12-inch 12GL1,” the company said. By current standards, those are quite small screens, but they carry big price tags. The price in yen works out to about $2,880 for the 20-inch model and $1,440 for the 12-inch model.

“A dream TV is now reality,” Masaaki Oosumi, President of Toshiba Visual Products told a press conference in Japan. “It is obviously more natural to watch TV without glasses,” he observed. “That is the natural technological progression.”

The tech journal NetworkWorld has posted a video report with portions of the press conference unveiling the new television sets. Click here to see it.

While the new TV sets don’t require viewers to wear special glasses, you do have to sit directly in front of the screen to see the images properly. That will limit how many people can view a program together.

How does the new product work, displaying 3D images that can be seen with the naked eye? Here is the explanation from Toshiba:

Key Product Features

1. The technology of 3D capability without glasses reproduces smooth, natural high quality 3D images
The new Glasses-less 3D REGZA GL1 series employ an integral imaging system and perpendicular lenticular sheet that can display natural and smooth high quality 3D images.

The integral imaging systems is based on the principal of sampling and collecting form several directions the light reflected from an object, and then faithfully reproducing the light through the display to realize smooth, natural images. Until now, conventional 3D technology without glasses has produced a fall off in image resolution and increased blurring that has prevented practical use. Toshiba employs an LED backlit LCD panel specially designed for 3D content that systematically aligns pixels, and has also adopted a perpendicular lenticular sheet in order to realize precise rendering and natural, high quality 3D images.
Toshiba’s technology simultaneously delivers nine parallax images to the LCD panel and controls and optimizes light emission and direction from the center, right and left of the screen to secure a wide viewing angle. The result is optimized display of high quality 3D images whatever the position and angle to the screen of the viewer.

This technology is the recipient of the 21st Century Invention Prize for 2010, one of the National Commendations for Invention, from the HATSUMEI KYOKAI, Japan Institute of Invention and Innovation.

2. LCD panel designed for 3D capability without glasses
The 20GL1?s high definition LED backlit LCD panel, specially designed for 3D capability without glasses, has approximately four times the pixels of a Full HD panel, approximately 829 million pixels. It can combine and display nine parallax images carrying information from nine images created in real time from a single frame. It transmits the final 3D image with a resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels.

Toshiba’s LED backlight control system positions 1,440 LEDs directly under the LCD panel to realize bright 3D images. Moreover, each pixel can support the display of red green and blue (RGB) in a layout expressly designed for 3D imaging. Image data from each pixel is replicated nine times and the direction in which they are transmitted is controlled by the lenticular sheet. The result is smooth, natural 3D images that can be viewed from multiple angles without glasses.

The 12GL1 supports the same approach for approximately 147 million pixels and integrates an LED panel that can display 466 x 350 pixels.

The 20GL1 LCD panel is the fruit of research with Toshiba Mobile Display Co., Ltd. This was supported in part under the revised budget for FY2009 from the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications for “Research and Development on Glasses- Free 3D Image Technologies.”

3. Newly developed engine designed for 3D capability without glasses
The 20GL1 integrates the Cell Broadband Engine™ and the Glasses-less 3D CELL REGZA Engine, newly developed multi-parallax conversion LSIs designed for superior multimedia processing. High speed arithmetic processing creates nine parallax images from original content and converts it to 3D images with real depth, allowing Toshiba to achieve precise rendering of natural, high quality 3D images.
For the 12GL1, the newly developed engine designed for 3D capability without glasses combined with Toshiba’s image processing LSIs and multi-parallax LSIs creates the 3D image.

4. Focus on Environmental Considerations
(1) Integration of LED backlight
The Glasses-less REGZA GL1 Series TVs are environmentally conscious products that integrate energy-saving LED backlighting. The backlights are free of mercury, which occurs at trace levels in cold cathode fluorescent (CCFL) backlights.

(2) Energy-saving features
The 20GL1 offers a number of energy-saving features:
– Power consumption is controlled by maintaining optimum image brightness.
– Automatic stand-by if no command is received from the remote controller for approximately three hours.
– Automatic stand-by mode if, when the TV is set to external input, no signal is received for approximately 15 minutes.

(3) Effective use of resources
All components that use over 25g of plastic indicate the materials used and are designed for recycling. Use of polylactic resin, a biodegradable, vegetable-based plastic 100% derived from corn, contributes to reduced consumption of petroleum and to lower CO2 emissions.

(4) RoHS and J-Moss (Green Mark)compatible
The REGZA GL1 Series contributes to moves toward environmentally conscious products by achieving full compliance with the EU’s RoHS and Japan’s J-Moss.

RBR-TVBR observation: As we’ve pointed out before, having to wear special glasses to watch is the biggest obstacle to widespread consumer acceptance of 3D TV. Toshiba is moving in the right direction. In time, the screens will have to get a lot bigger and the price will have to come down, but this is where 3D TV has to go if it is to succeed.