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How 3D HDTV Works

Updated on November 7, 2010

3D Introduction

The evolution of TV display system has now shifted to displaying 3D contents. This can be seen from the offerings by major TV manufacturers like Sony, Samsung and others. In the market now you can find 3D capable TVs side by side with the normal HDTV. They become available in 2009 and 2010 with many LED LCD TVs being 3D capable.


3D Popularity

Likewise in the coming years, expect more 3D hardwares like LCD TVs, computer monitors , projectors to turn up in the market. And together with the increase in hardwares is the softwares ie 3D contents.

These will get popular as shown by the success of James Cameron’s film "Avatar", Pixar's "Up" and not forgetting "Monsters VS Aliens". Definitely more to come in 2010 and beyond.

3D Technology

Speaking of 3D, what are the technologies involved. In fact the 3D idea had been with the entertainment industries for a while. Still remember the days when viewers were asked to wear red and blue glasses when watching 3D movies. Well the principle behind this early idea remains unchanged.

Evolution of 3D Technology
Evolution of 3D Technology

Passive glass systems

When we speak of 3D, the working principle is how to fool the eye and the brain to achieve a 3D effect. There are several methods where this can be achieved. The 3 most common methods are discussed below.

Passive glass systems: This technology is similar to what is used in the early days of 3D viewing. Thus to watch the 3D images, the viewers will have to wear glasses that are polarized. The display system will display overlapping images and these are picked up separately by the left and right eye when the viewers wear the polarized glasses. Then the brain does the rest.

Active glasses system
Active glasses system

Active glass systems

The next technology is making use of glasses too but in stead of just plain passive glasses, this system made use of active glasses.

Active glass systems: This technology is an upgrade of the passive system. Here, special glasses are used which are able to synchronize with the refresh rate of the TV.

As the glasses alternate the polarization of each lens, the viewers sees a 3D images. Thus this does away with the need for the TV to project overlapping images which therefore allows viewers without the special glasses to view the images in 2D comfortably.

This technology is pursued by Samsung and Mitsubishi. Samsung had a range of 3D led HDTV like the Samsung UN55C7000 that works with its proprietor 3D glasses. The downside of this system is the cost of the 3Dglasses.

Lenticular System

The third method of watching 3D movies is the lenticular system.

Lenticular viewing: This system is pioneered by Philips and TV sets that use this technology can be watched without those funny glasses that audiences used in the other systems above. These special televisions use a lens that can send different images to each eye. Thus the left eye will see a different image from the right eye. This emulates your two eyes' use of stereoscopic vision. However one disadvantage of this system is that a viewer must sit in a very specific spot in front of the TV. Thus only a limited number of people would be able to watch the 3D effect due to the small viewing angle of the TV.


Like any technology, the performance and technology will improve over time. As the technical part is improving so will be the manufacturing processes. Improvement in the manufacturing processes will result in the lowering of production cost and thus lower purchasing cost for consumer. Likewise there will be increase in 3D content over time too. 


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