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Four CE Companies To Create 3DTV Glasses Spec

Panasonic, Samsung Electronics, Sony and Xpand 3D announced plans to jointly develop a specification for 3D active-shutter glasses based on Bluetooth wireless technology -- although the effort will do nothing about the fact that many people don't like wearing 3D glasses at all.

The companies' Full HD 3D Glasses Initiative is designed to standardize consumer 3D active glasses, enabling "universal" glasses that would work with Panasonic, Samsung and Sony 3DTVs, as well as potentially others.

Meanwhile, the Consumer Electronics Association kicked off its own 3D-glasses standardization effort in March 2011, with plans to deliver a specification in October.

"CEA is pleased to see the industry announcement of a collaboration to further advance work toward a specification for 3D eyewear, which will benefit consumers," CEA senior vice president of research and standards Brian Markwalter said in a statement. "CEA's efforts have captured a great deal of technical information and discussion on interaction of 3D and existing IR systems which we expect will help our member companies reach the goal of fully interoperable active glasses."

The standardization effort could reduce the price of 3D glasses, which can cost more than $100 each.

But until CE manufacturers deliver glasses-free 3D displays, the industry will continue to encounter resistance from consumers who simply don't like wearing them: 89% of TV viewers surveyed felt the 3D glasses would constrain their multitasking activities, and 45% expressed concern that wearing the glasses was uncomfortable, according to a study commissioned last year by the Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing.

LG Electronics -- which has championed 3DTVs that use passive displays -- claims that consumers find that the less-expensive passive glasses are more comfortable and provide better picture quality.

"Common standards for active-flicker 3D glasses have been discussed for some time in the industry, so this 'alliance' is not surprising -- especially in light of the momentum behind 'passive' 3D TV," LG spokesman John Taylor said.

The active-shutter glasses backers, of course, assert that their approach is superior: "We believe active 3D technology is the most suitable method to deliver full 1080p picture quality to each eye, giving consumers the 3D experience they most desire," said Jun Yonemitsu, deputy senior general manager of Sony's Home Entertainment Development Division.

Under the agreement announced Monday, Panasonic, Samsung Electronics, Sony and Xpand 3D intend to develop and license radio frequency (RF) system 3D active glasses technology, including RF system protocols between consumer 3D active glasses and 3D displays such as televisions, PCs, projectors and 3D theaters with Xpand active-shutter glasses. The project will also include multiple types of infrared (IR) system protocols between 3D active glasses and 3D displays, including the protocols jointly developed by Panasonic and Xpand 3D as well as the Samsung's and Sony's proprietary protocols.

The companies said they intend to start licensing under the Full HD 3D Glasses Initiative September 2011, when they will begin development of new standardization-applied active 3D glasses. Universal glasses with the new IR/RF protocols are expected to become available in 2012, and are targeted to be backward compatible with 2011-model active 3DTVs.

"We hope the expanded collaboration on this 3D standardization initiative will make a significant contribution toward accelerating the growth of 3D-related products," Masayuki Kozuka, general manager of Panasonic's Media & Content Alliance Office, said in a statement.

X6D Ltd., which does business as Xpand 3D, already markets "universal" 3D glasses. The company says those work with televisions from Sony, Panasonic, LG (IR models only), Phillips, Mitsubishi (with compatible emitter), Samsung (IR models only), Sharp and Toshiba. The company claims its technology is used by more than 4,500 3D-enabled movie theaters in more than 50 countries.