I've written several stories this past year about a company called Stream TV Networks, beginning with this piece here last August. The company makes a product called Ultra-D, which is a stunning technology they license for 3D-TV without glasses.
I've been following the company for several years, being in regular communication with its president Mathu Rajan, and have seen their TV sets in operation, and it's quite stunning. The products are at brilliant 4K-compatible quality, and among other things can convert regular on-air TV to glassless 3D in real-time.
(I know that some analysts feel that the window for 3D-TV has come and gone, flopping poorly. But that's for 3D-TV with glasses, a technology I've long-written is very flawed and destined to fail. But 3D-TV without glasses is a completely different dynamic, I feel. And a technology, too, that can be adapted to other media, like monitors, tablets, large screen mobile phones, even potentially movie screens one day -- who knows? --and more.)
Release to the market for the Ultra-D TV sets is another issue, and has been a long time coming, where I've gotten a lot of calls from Mathu about new deals and products being close for release. The deals are real, but at that point the manufacturing and distribution is out of Stream TV Networks' hands. Thus far, most of the companies they've had TV manufacturing deals with have been based in China -- although they distribute the U.S. -- and thus far there have been delays.
But a month ago, Mathu called, full of excited anticipation for some news deals upcoming. And the past week, those have finally been announced. One is a deal with a U.K. TV manufacturer, Cello Electronics. Another is the first deal I've seen them announce with a U.S. manufacturer, Izon. It's a small company, but I've seen their presence at CES in the past. The third press release isn't incredibly clear what it's announcing (never a good thing for a press release), but after some investigation it's a deal with the company, Inception Digital, that makes sets that are placed in restaurants or other such-business to display ever-changing ads and information, and they’re doing a test with about five restaurant chains, one of which is Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse.
Though this latter company isn't a TV manufacturer, it's noteworthy nonetheless, because one of the things that Stream TV Networks has been pursuing and developing has been application for their technology in products other than just televisions -- as mentioned, like for tablets and monitors and more. So, this is evidence of progress in that area.
After getting all this information, I contacted Mathu Rajan again, and he filled me in enthusiastically with more updates. (Though, to be clear, he tends to speak with excited enthusiasm as a general rule.)
None of these deals are for imminent distribution in retail stores. However they all have expected market dates in the coming year, some in the early part of the year. Izon and Cello Electronics, for instance, are both expected to have sets in the stores during the first quarter of 2015. They also have a commitment from several large Chinese companies to roll out their sets with Ultra-D technology during the coming year. Skyworth (which is #1 in China selling 4K sets and #7 for global TV manufacturers) will be showing their Ultra-D sets at CES next month and expect to have them on the market in Q2. Konka (#9 in the world) will be presenting its 65" Ultra-D set at CES, as well, and also plans to have them in stores in Q2. And there is the continuing deal with Hisense. SkyMedia -- which is #3 in TV sales in South Korea -- should have their Ultra-D sets in the market in Q1.
Additionally, there are several other new relationships with substantive companies who have already taken their sets with the Ultra-D technology to display in public at trade shows, which is a significant step. It's particularly significant since these include Panasonic and NEC. Two other very big Japanese companies he mentioned (though not ready to name for public consumption yet) are expected to be ready in the third quarter of the year.
As I mentioned, Stream TV Networks has also been developing their glassless 3-D technology in areas other than just TVs, like computer monitors, tablets and large-screen mobile phones. In that regard, they have a deal with Epic Entertainment, who is developing games for the glassless-3D platform and will be showing their products at a a "gaming area" of the Stream TV booth during CES. And also at the booth, Stream TV Networks will have a "mock" TV studio giving demonstrations with equipment that can broadcast directly in glassless 3-D. And they're in talks with several high-end PC makers, expecting to display glassless 3D-monitors at the huge IFA Berlin trade show in September..
I have no idea what will come of this, after all there have been starts-and-delays along the way, but it does appear that some significant, meaningful steps forward have been taken. When companies have already displayed their Ultra-D sets at trade shows and others will doing so at CES in just two weeks, it seems like the "expected" market dates -- some as soon as the first quarter of 2015 -- are definitely worth watching.
Updates as they occur...
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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