Most people know that the fourth dimension is time, and a few even follow the meanderings of string theory, which posits 11 dimensions (this week, anyway). But it’s the 3D world that everyone is talking about now, especially as it pertains to new display technology (and even newer printing methods). Here’s a quick update on the 3D technology that most of us will be using soon enough, if we’re not already.
Monitors and displays
Samsung released the first “3D ready” television in early 2007, and the first 3D plasma model in 2008. Viewsonic then debuted the first LCD computer monitor in 2009, and by 2010 the big “consumer tech” firms had launched a tidal wave of 3D models. There is now a wide range of consumer 3D TVs available from scores of manufacturers, as well as 3D displays even being considered for new versions of all-in-one multitouch display PC models.
More than a few tech pundits predicted a huge, immediate market for 3D TVs and monitors. The actual results have been underwhelming. Media professionals working on 3D models for animation or product design – the sort that use the AJA HD IO and other high-end gear – have a true need for a 3D display. Most graphic designers, and the overwhelming majority of “average” computer users, do not. For growth in this sector, watch the TV makers.
“Additive Manufacturing” (AM) is the industry term for “3D printing,” a new technology that could gross over $5 billion worldwide by 2020. Low-cost 3D printers span the professional and consumer markets, and their gradual introduction over the past several years has brought additive manufacturing into the mainstream more than anything else. 3D printers made by the same “biggies” that make some of our printer rentals have made the new technology accessible to hobbyists, entrepreneurs, students, researchers and inventors.
3D viewing still requires the use of special glasses. Initially, manufacturers made proprietary ones that worked only with their own products (and possibly with similar models from other makers). The “Full HD 3D Glasses Initiative” is a new consortium of “entertainment giants” – Sony, Samsung, Panasonic and others – that hopes to replace a slew of incompatible glasses with ones based on the “Xpand 3D” standard. This new standard is expected to proliferate on everything from high-end digital theater screens to plasma display rentals.