Panasonic Ramps Up 3D Full HD Efforts
Panasonic is making a big production of 3D Full HD (3D FHD) Home Theater technology, evangelizing the coming 2010 debut of a roster of Panasonic-branded 3D products for the home with a “rollout” of sorts that’s taking place well before the actual rollout.
As prelude to the market intros, happening sometime in the next calendar year, the company is literally taking the technology on the road – in three 3D Home Theater-equipped trucks tasked to tour European and American sites over the next few months.
The idea, said Peter Fannon, vice president of corporate government affairs for Panasonic Corp., N.A., at a 3D FHD demonstration in late August at Panasonic’s Secaucus, N.J. American headquarters, is to make the case for the technology’s benefits to select Panasonic trade, creative-community and retail partners. Venues to be visited this year will include the Berlin IFA exhibition, the CEDIA Expo in Atlanta, and exposure at Tokyo’s annual CEATEC technology exhibition in October.
“This technology is as big a change as the move from analog to digital TV was,” said Fannon. “Audio is already an immersive experience, with 7.1-channel technology. It’s high time that video catches up, and now that we have mature high-definition technology, we are able to make 3D a truly immersive TV experience.”
Panasonic’s stereoscopic 3D FHD system uses a Blu-ray player in tandem with active-shutter glasses embedded with LCD lenses whose strobing effect, refreshed 120 times a second, works with the content on a Blu-ray disc to produce the 3D Full HD images. The glasses are powered by a 250-hour battery that is automatically activated when 3D content is detected on screen. Panasonic is using a 3D-capable 103-inch plasma display to show the technology in full flower, but Fannon said that multiple screen sizes will be available when products hit the market.
A big part of the buildup to the public’s acceptance of 3D technology in the home is its embracement of 3D in movie theaters, added Fannon. “By the end of 2009, there will be 4,000 3D theatrical screens in the U.S. And it’s clear that studios are enjoying important financial benefits of 3D releases” in the form of brisk sales of higher-priced 3D movie tickets. “We expect a large number of theatrical titles to be available by next year.”
Panasonic is also working with the creative community, through the activities of its recently formed Panasonic Hollywood Laboratory Advanced Authoring Center, to put 3D Full HD content on disks, he added, and has enlisted the support of director James Cameron. Cameron, whose combination animated/live action film “Avatar,” due out in December, was filmed in 3D, has commented on the quality of Panasonic’s 3D presentation for the home, saying the company plays “a crucial role in realizing the next step for in-home 3D entertainment.”
Fannon also added that Panasonic, a strong proponent of stereoscopic 3D technology standardization, was optimistic that the 3D Task Force created by the Blu-ray Disc Association was “well along the way to developing recommended specifications that will lead to a standard.” Following packaged content, he said, “the cable, telco and satellite companies will come along quickly after home theater releases to offer new services. But for Panasonic,” Fannon said, “getting the home experience going is the way to go.”
Fannon also predicted a short journey for home 3D FHD acceptance from the early-adopter crowd to mass-market buyers, citing the swift reception by consumers of high-definition displays as an example. “Technology cycles are always speeding up,” he noted. “HD is in anywhere from 60 to 70 percent of homes now. It just shows what can happen when you have a common standard. As 3D rolls out for the public to see and for retailers to be able to show it on the salesfloor, and as content and word of mouth build in both the entertainment and gaming categories, it will be an extraordinarily powerful and fast takeup.”