The 3DTV Decoder Ring

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The intelligence to handle multiple 3DTV display formats will reside within the TVs themselves — independent of the method used for the transmission, according to David Broberg, CableLabs vice president of consumer video technology.

CableLabs hosted a demo at the SCTE Cable-Tec Expo last month to show the transmission of 3DTV signals, originating from the Comcast Media Center, going to different television sets from Hyundai IT, LG Electronics and Sony; a home-theater system from Panasonic; and a Sony “mini-theater.”

Different 3DTV sets use different methods to render stereoscopic 3D images; common technologies in use today are polarized and active-shutter glasses. But those display mechanisms are completely independent of the method used for transmission in the same way native HD resolutions are independent, Broberg said. Ergo, he says, the ability to successfully deliver 3D to the TV doesn’t need to wait for a “universal” 3DTV set-top, as suggested by Motorola.

“What is needed is a conversion circuit within the television designed to accommodate all the requisite conversions,” Broberg said. “All stereoscopic 3D televisions will include such a circuit, to the same degree that all HD televisions are capable of handling multiple resolutions.”

Broberg drew a parallel to the debate between the proponents of 720p and those of 1080i during the early days of HDTV. Companies had built HDTV prototypes for each format, which were incompatible and required the proper input signals to operate.

“Yet when the products finally reached the market these format converters were a common feature of all HDTVs,” he said, and now the same thing is happening with 3D stereoscopic displays.

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