Samsung Boss Dismisses Glasses-Free 3D TV For Next 5-10 Years

Vincent Teoh

Samsung Electronics – the leading flat-screen TV manufacturer in the world in terms of shipment volume – has dismissed glasses-free 3D technology (otherwise known as autostereoscopic 3D) as a nonentity for at least the next 5 to 10 years. A boss at the company claimed that certain technical flaws inherent in autostereoscopic 3D technology need to be addressed before it can be ready for mass production.

Speaking at a forum, Samsung’s president of Visual Display Business Boo-Keun Yoon said that while 3D without glasses may work on smaller displays such as mobile phones, handheld devices or flat-panel monitors, implementing it successfully on larger HDTVs poses more of a challenge due to how autostereoscopic 3D works.

To produce 3D effects without requiring the viewer to don special 3D glasses, most of the current batch of autostereoscopic 3D displays depends on lenticular or parallax methods, where the source image is dispersed into distinct rays of light which are then projected from the screen at different angles. The viewer’s left and right eyes would receive 2 slightly different images, and when the brain attempts to merge these images, an illusion of 3D depth would be created.

Although this approach negates the need for 3D eyewear, the 3D effects can only be appreciated in a confined sweet spot. The larger the 3D display, the harder it is for the correct images to be delivered at the right time to the viewer’s left and right eyes. Judging from Mr Yoon’s comments, Samsung obviously thinks that in its current state, glasses-free 3D technology is still not viable on large-screen HDTV sets. The Korean conglomerate will continue to focus on developing and selling stereoscopic 3D TV sets (which require viewers to wear 3D glasses), in the hope that consumers will eventually be swayed by the superior 3D picture quality.

However, numerous surveys to date have suggested that compulsory 3D eyewear remains a major turnoff for consumers thinking about buying a 3D TV. Seeking to capitalise on this trend, some TV makers like Toshiba and Sony have started work on bringing autostereoscopic glasses-free 3D TV displays to the market as soon as possible.