ADB's Closed-Door 3D Demo

Los Angeles — The booth demo with probably the most buzz at the Cable Show this past week was the not-for-public-consumption showing of two dazzling 3DTV program guide prototypes by Advanced Digital Broadcast.

ADB, the Switzerland-based set-top and middleware company, actually showed three guides. The first was a 3D version of its “Carbo” IPG, which more or less had your typical guide navigation features but in 3D format.

The other two were more interesting. The “white” guide featured an icon ribbon on the bottom of the screen, which popped menus up — and out — when you clicked on them. Key “oooooh” moment: clicking on a program listing popped up a small picture-in-picture window with 3D video.

The second guide explored new navigational possibilities offered by 3D. Up came an ordinary-looking TV listing grid. But with the click of the remote, the grid tilted to the side, revealing seven categories (which could be sports, movies, kids, news, HD, etc.). Selecting one of the “walls” made it slide out and come to the front of the screen. Nifty!

ADB spokesman Mike Malcy noted that the demos are, for now, just demos. But the company certainly received enough interest in the software that it’s considering turning the 3D IPGs into products. The development for the 3D software came out of ADB’s software engineering teams in Poland and Ukraine.

Anyway, it’s more evidence that the three-dimensional hype hasn’t slackened since CES in January (see TV’s Third Dimension and Vive le 3DTV!). 3DTV permeated the Cable Show floor, with demos staged by Panasonic, NDS, Motorola, Cisco, Time Warner Cable, Nagravision, Harmonic and CommScope, which was showing an autostereoscopic (i.e. glasses-free) system that made me a bit woozy.

But the chatter was all about ADB’s guide. Time Warner Cable CTO Mike LaJoie, during a panel Thursday morning hosted by BigBand, encouraged everyone in attendance to check out the ADB demo. Apparently there was so much traffic at the vendor’s booth for the 3D demo, the engineer showing it off was losing his voice by lunchtime Thursday.

To LaJoie, the real barrier for 3DTV is people’s willingness to wear the glasses. He cited a survey indicating that 60% of people watch TV while using a PC, laptop or handheld device. “That’s going to be a little ungainly,” he observed.

A related programming note:

On May 25 in New York City, Multichannel News, B&C, TWICE and three NewBay Media sister publications will present the 3DTV2010 event. I’m moderating a panel, “Getting 3DTV Into the Home: Challenges & Opportunities,” with five top industry execs: Comcast’s Mark Hess, DirecTV’s Steven Roberts, Motorola’s Larry Robinson, SES World Skies CTO Alan Young and HDMI Licensing’s Steve Venuti. Keynote speakers are ESPN’s Sean Bratches and Best Buy’s Mike Vitelli.

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