Moto Imagines a 'Universal' 3DTV Set-Top

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Denver — 3D television broadcasts are years away, but Motorola is already talking about delivering digital set-top boxes that would be able to convert 3DTV video into any other 3DTV format.

In a demo on the show floor here at Cable-Tec Expo, Motorola has a VIP 1225 IP set-top playing U2 concert footage viewable in 3D using active glasses from XpanD. A DCX3400 cable box is playing 3D trailer of Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs which uses RealD glasses.

While Motorola doesn’t have a set-top today that can convert video from, say, a checkerboard interleaved 3D format to a top/bottom (or side-by-side) technique, there may someday be a need for that.

Jae Hoon Kim, senior staff engineer in Motorola’s San Diego-based advanced technology group, pointed out there’s no industry standard for 3DTV. “Each content provider will have their own preference,” he says. TV manufacturers are using different 3D rendering technologies — CableLabs’ 3DTV showcase at the show, for example, features demos by Panasonic, LG and Hyundai.

In theory, a 3D-capable TV set could instruct the set-top which format or formats it supports using HDMI. Such a 3D-aware set-top could also produce a 2D version of the video, according to Kim.

Note, however, that groups including SCTE, CableLabs and the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMTPE) are working toward establishing common industry standards — with the goal of avoiding the Balkanization of 3-D content and technologies (see 3-D Video: Coming to Home Theaters? and CableLabs Issues Request For Information On 3-D TV).

And sometimes competing CE technologies resolve themselves in the marketplace (i.e. Blu-ray Disc prevailing over HD DVD; VHS beating Betamax).

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