Over the past few years, I've written several times with updates about a company called Stream TV Networks, which has developed a terrific glassless 3D-TV technology called Ultra-D. You can get the whole story here, but the short version is that the technology is tremendous, it works exceedingly well and resolved the huge problem of needing to wear those 3D glasses, since it doesn't require any. And it's resolved, too, the issue of there being almost no 3D content for TV by being able to convert 2D material to 3D in real-time.
That's the good. (And it's very good.) The bad is all those updates. The technology has been ready for primetime for at least five years, and I've seen working models. In fact, the Ultra-D technology is being actively used in a related business, that of signage. But for a variety of reasons, the TV division hasn't kicked in yet, despite having deals with major TV set companies and several "it's coming in a few months" false starts. It hasn't been because of no market -- among other things, they not only do have those deals in place, but also TVs that use Ultra-D can watch normal programming in 2D, unlike the older 3D-TVs requiring glasses which could only watch in 3D, so at its core, TV sets using Ultra-D have the same basic market as any television -- but the continued delays are the results of other hurdles which its president Mathu Rajan has discussed with me along the way. One of them, for example, has been the desire to stay ahead of technology, and these new sets aren't just 4K models which are now prevalent in the marketplace, but rather 8K and 8K-compatible. (Again, as before, there's no issue with there being no 8K content, since the Ultra-D technology can convert standard content to 8K compatible in real time.)
I now come to the part where I once again say about the delays, "That may be about to change..." and we'll find out if it is, indeed, about to change this time, or if another hurdle gets in the way. A wait-and-see attitude is always a good starting point here. But this one seems to have a couple of things going for it that make it appear that serious progress has been made.
The first is that I was recently in the market for a new Smart TV (long story...), and I like the Ultra-D technology enough to be willing to wait a bit if the sets had a specific date when they'd be coming to the market. So, I brought it up to Mathu. He gave me a target date they now have -- and it's reasonably close, but not imminent and given the uncertainty of market dates being "flexible" in the past, I didn't want to put things off.
And the second is that just yesterday I received an email from Stream TV Networks announcing a big press conference. This is something that Mathu has spoken about having "soon" -- and that was initially a couple years ago, but they each ended up having to get cancelled and no invitations were ever sent out. So, to actually get an invitation is a huge leap forward in this all becoming a reality. Furthermore, the date of the press conference is close enough that there's no wiggle room to cancel it. I don't mean "little wiggle room," I mean none. The press conference is set for...tomorrow.
(I did find one thing amusing about the invitation. Over the past years when they've been planning for the press conference, Mathu has always said how he'd like me there, since I've been writing about Ultra-D so much. And though I'd love to go to press conference -- not only is heading off out-of-town with two days notice a bit of a burden, especially now (long story, see above...), this would be an even significantly bigger burden, since the press conference is being held at 10 AM at the Westin Hotel in...Beijing, China. It was great to see that they're finally having the press conference, but I do have my limits.)
Anyway, for these two reasons together, I do sense that their hurdles may actually have been overcome, and the glassless 3D TV sets may actually be coming to market reasonably soon. (I don't want to jump the gun of the press conference, since the date Mathu told me was off-the-record.) Also the press conference will not only be introducing their 65" model, but also a 10.1" glassless 3D display -- which seems to be the tablet screen the company has been developing alongside the TVs.
So, we'll see what gets announced at the press conference, and how it overlaps with the latest news I'd been told about the upcoming entry to the market. And again, if you're coming to this after the initial articles I've written on the subject, and are interested (which if you've gotten this far, you probably are...), check out the link above.
Watch this space. Still. Updates as they occur. We'll see. Hopefully, literally.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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