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Ultra-D is Glasses-Free 3D for UHDTV, Coming This Year

post #1 of 106
Thread Starter 
Do you believe that 3D has a future in home entertainment? I do, thanks to a demonstration I recently witnessed at the U.S. headquarters of Stream TV Networks, located in Philadelphia, PA. In the back of a nondescript, third-floor office, I saw high-definition, glasses-free 3D—dubbed Ultra-D—on a big screen, and it looked great. In fact, the 3D screen I previewed looked fantastic—good enough to give me goose bumps during a 3D demonstration of Life of Pi.



Leo Riley, the VP of Stream TV, gave a full demonstration of the product, which is now at the pre-production stage. Stream TV created a proprietary system for autostereoscopic 3D viewing—that means glasses-free 3D. The panel itself was a 50" LED-backlit LCD UHDTV from Chinese maker Hisense, a pre-production unit that offered a glimpse of a product that should be on store shelves in the fourth quarter of 2013. Riley was keen to note that Hisense prices its products very aggressively, and the final retail pricing of the new UHDTVs will reflect that. Expect a 50", 58", and 65" model sporting the new technology.

One of the most exciting features of Ultra-D is how the technology is screen-agnostic. What makes it work is the abundance of pixels that UHD panels provide, which is why Ultra-D equipped TVs will be available soon, now that UHDTVs are gaining in popularity and prices are dropping. There was even mention of a 31" UHD Ultra-D computer monitor that is almost ready. I plan to re-visit the Stream TV Networks office when that screen arrives.

If the future brings UHD OLED to market, Ultra-D will work with this technology—albeit at OLED prices. All this talk of tablets and TVs and technology led me to ask Riley, "What about projectors, could this ever work for a projector-based home theater?" His response—Stream TV Networks plans to tackle holographic display, which is where all display technology is ultimately heading.

The future plans and applications for Ultra-D technology was interesting enough, but what happened next was more profound. I went from "interested" to "believer" in no time flat—just a few minutes watching a UHD Ultra-D TV demo was enough to erase any skepticism. Upon seeing a demo of Avengers, my first comment was, "If this is how 3D was, I’d watch 3D all the time."

As impressive as the image looked, I noticed a few glitches in the 3D rendition while watching some complex action in the final battle scene of The Avengers. It was just a tiny bit of fuzziness here and there, which I figured was acceptable considering how great the overall presentation looked.

That's when Riley dropped the bomb! We had not been watching The Avengers in 3D. The Ultra-D system was doing its own real-time 3D conversion of the movie, and it was doing a great job—clearly better than other 2D-to-3D converters I've seen in the past. Then, he switched the movie over to actual 3D, and suddenly the performance was perfect. Rock-solid, true 3D that I could simply see with no weirdness at all. Another aspect of the presentation that totally blew me away was the brightness. The late Roger Ebert would often lament that 3D meant watching a dim movie. I wish the man had lived to see Ultra-D, because it is a revelation—exactly as bright and vibrant as a 2D presentation.

I could not get any tech-spec details about the panel itself, except that it was not edge-lit LCD, but rather backlit. I think that approach really helped with the overall image quality—the range from black to white was very impressive, and uniformity was notably exceptional. With Ultra-D, any sort of artifacts associated with edge-lit UHDTVs would be painfully obvious. As impressed as I was with the Avengers demo, I really wanted to see something mind-blowing. We settled on the flying-fish scene from Life of Pi, because it pioneered the use of 3D animation that breaks out of the letterbox region—an effect that helped the 3D spectacle earn the 2013 Oscar for visual effects.

With letterbox bars on the screen, the panel maintained its deep blacks and screen uniformity. As the scene began, with the first couple of fish appearing, I began to appreciate something Riley had described to me. The Ultra-D processor is capable of combining the information in the full-HD left and right views on a 3D Blu-ray. Since these two images contain different visual information—2 million pixels each—the Ultra-D process is able to interpolate the textures to achieve a higher visual resolution. The two images become one scene, and on a UHDTV, the viewer actually sees more detail watching an Ultra-D presentation of a 3D BD, than is contained in the equivalent 1080p 2D presentation.


This was the actual pre-production unit—sadly a 2D photo cannot show what I saw.

The added detail afforded by Ultra-D was on full display as the fish started flying and ultimately appeared to leap right out of the screen into the room. I have never seen anything like it, and I got goose bumps. That's because I felt—at that moment—a thrill that reminded me of being a kid at an amusement park, or at the premier of the greatest movie ever. I was entranced by the detail, the realism, and most important, the viewing comfort.

As a final test, I turned the room light all the way off and then all the way up. Image quality remained excellent, regardless of ambient light levels. This is glasses-free 3D that is watchable in a sunlit room or a darkened home theater. I also found that off-angle viewing still maintained the 3D effect, and viewing distance was not an issue—whether I was six feet away or fifteen-plus feet away, the 3D effect was impressive.

While I moved around the room on foot to check viewing angles, I noticed that the 3D image exhibited a minor flutter, a visual pulsation of sorts. That flutter is a known side effect of transitioning between "viewing cones," the means by which autostereoscopic screens deliver discrete information to each eye. It was only noticeable when moving around; all stationary viewing positions yielded exceptional 3D.

When the demo ended, I could not help but think that I had just glimpsed the future of UHDTV. Now, when I watch my TV at home, its "flatness" is painfully obvious, and seemingly unnecessary. However, my current HDTV has 3D capability, so the real issue is wearing 3D glasses and the dim image that creates.

From what I have seen and heard, Stream TV Networks and its Ultra-D technology is ready for prime time—as in mass production—and should be coming to store shelves sooner than I anticipated. According to Riley, there is much more to come—so stay tuned for more news about this very impressive 3D-display technology.

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Edited by imagic - 8/5/13 at 2:38pm
post #2 of 106
Thank you.
Ultra-D 3D TV with 4KTV will be my next purchase...for sure.
post #3 of 106

+1 Sounds very impressive. Thanks for the comprehensive review Mark. Do you know if they have plans of going on a road show to demo this across the country? I'd like to check it out myself as you have done.

 

FYI: Here's the website for Stream TV Networks for further reading:

 

http://streamtvnetworks.com/

 

And here's their Ultra-D info site:

 

http://www.ultra-d.com/

post #4 of 106
Sounds good, but to me 3D is not worth the trouble on 50-in or slightly larger flat panels. You need a big projection setup to truly appreciate 3D. So although I am currently using an active glasses setup with a Sony projector I would be happier if there was a cheaper way to do passive at full HD resolution.
post #5 of 106
My interest is piqued....but I'm still filing it under "I'll believe it when I see it".

If its screen agnostic, does that mean its some sort of overlay or film that sits on top of the panel?

Either way, it seems like between this and the cheap 4K screens, the Chinese manufacturers are providing some serious competition. Hopefully it accelerates the price decline.
post #6 of 106
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by bd2003 View Post

My interest is piqued....but I'm still filing it under "I'll believe it when I see it".

If its screen agnostic, does that mean its some sort of overlay or film that sits on top of the panel?

Either way, it seems like between this and the cheap 4K screens, the Chinese manufacturers are providing some serious competition. Hopefully it accelerates the price decline.

It is a film overlay, and it is a process for applying that film at the mass-production level. It is also a chip, that performs the necessary processing—both for 2D-3D conversion, and algorithmic resolution enhancement of full HD 3D source material. One of the features I really appreciated, was how the 3D effect could be dialed to just about any strength, in real-time, with the push of a button on a remote. Stream TV Networks is really about licensing a process that scales to mass production.

Honestly. I'm almost more excited to see the UHD Ultra-D computer monitor. That could have profound implications for gaming, and I'd get one sooner than later. With the TV, it would be harder for me to justify an upgrade so soon—but I expect that could change in 2014. What I saw, ruined 2D TV for me. I want a TV with autostereoscopic capability, ASAP. Dolby has a competing version of this technology which I am also interested to see. It's going to be an interesting year for 3D.
Edited by imagic - 8/5/13 at 9:32am
post #7 of 106
Quote:
Originally Posted by imagic View Post

It is a film overlay, and it is a process for applying that film. It is also a chip, that performs the necessary processing. One of the features I really appreciated, was how the 3D effect could be dialed to just about any strength, in real-time, with the push of a button on a remote. Stream TV Networks is really about licensing a process that scales to mass production.

Honestly. I'm almost more excited to see the UHD Ultra-D computer monitor. That could have profound implications for gaming, and I'd get one sooner than later. With the TV, it would be harder for me to justify an upgrade so soon—but I expect that could change in 2014. WHat I saw, ruined 2D TV for me. I want a TV with autostereoscopic capability, ASAP.

The only thing I'd worry about with 3D on PC is that widespread support is reliant on nvidia, for now at least. I think they'll hold back progress until they can find a way to make a profit off of it.
post #8 of 106
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by bd2003 View Post

The only thing I'd worry about with 3D on PC is that widespread support is reliant on nvidia, for now at least. I think they'll hold back progress until they can find a way to make a profit off of it.

I'd just connect a next-gen console—probably PS4—to the 31" Ultra-D monitor and call it a day.
post #9 of 106
The hisense it seems its the fifth biggest manufacturer TVs in the worldwide, and being the first to get this ULTRA-D panels, its a big step forward for the consumer get their "almost" afordable 4K tv.

Some youtube videos from CES 2013 mention that the Ultra-D glasses free TVs will be 20% to 25% + expensive than 3D with glasses and the first models will come with 42" and 60" inch in USA and Europe ( 4K for europe at last biggrin.gif)

Looking forward to read some reviews of 1080p sets with Ultra-D technology (If theres any ) and also 4K.
post #10 of 106
Any idea on prices for the 31" computer monitor?
post #11 of 106
This came a lot quicker than they first predicted, and I said I wouldn't get a 3D panel till it went glasses free. But I never expected it to be from a company I never heard of.
post #12 of 106
Reminding, the manufacturer itself needs to explicitly mention the U.S./North America, else the sets will only come out in 220V.
post #13 of 106
Quote:
Originally Posted by cjvnyc View Post

Reminding, the manufacturer itself needs to explicitly mention the U.S./North America, else the sets will only come out in 220V.



I'm not sure what you mean? He demoed it in Philly so it must be 110 volt.
post #14 of 106
Great exciting news! Now i am waiting for someone to drop the news about an ultra-D native anamorphic projector!
post #15 of 106
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by cjvnyc View Post

Reminding, the manufacturer itself needs to explicitly mention the U.S./North America, else the sets will only come out in 220V.

I'm talking about North America, definitely.
post #16 of 106
Wow - sounds interesting. How dependent was it on your position? I recall reading about prior glasses-free solutions and they all required participants to stand in designated areas or the 3D would fall apart. Is Ultra-D the same?

In any case, if this actually hits consumer TV in 2013 it will be the cherry on top of what has been a very exciting year for display tech.
post #17 of 106
^^ yes it is interesting, I know I didn't expect it this soon. You have to hand it to the Chinese manufacturers, while some are talking about they're doing it. Offering an affordable alternative to the big guys with UHD also. It may not look as good as the big guys but I bet they'll sell a ton of them. That said I'd have a hard time buying one myself.
post #18 of 106
I know this has been in the pipeline for some time so it has to be legitimate, but I've got to file this away in the 'I'll believe it when I see it" section. I don't currently understand the technology well enough to know how good or not it may be, I guess the overall concept seams appealing but unsure what the end result actually looks like. I don't think anyone actually enjoys wearing 3D glasses, but I don't understand how some sort of film layer so close to the actual display can present things that have depth in both directions and have it actually work at different angles and not just straight on.

Either way doesn't mean anything to me if it can't be adapted to a projector, which I don't see how it could.
post #19 of 106
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Done Deal DR View Post

I know this has been in the pipeline for some time so it has to be legitimate, but I've got to file this away in the 'I'll believe it when I see it" section. I don't currently understand the technology well enough to know how good or not it may be, I guess the overall concept seams appealing but unsure what the end result actually looks like. I don't think anyone actually enjoys wearing 3D glasses, but I don't understand how some sort of film layer so close to the actual display can present things that have depth in both directions and have it actually work at different angles and not just straight on.

Either way doesn't mean anything to me if it can't be adapted to a projector, which I don't see how it could.

Nor did I, but that's what I saw with my own eyes—and since this pre-production unit had just arrived, I'm one of the very first to lay eyes on it, which is why it has not been covered elsewhere. Lucky me, I live in Philly so getting to the office right after this unit arrived was as easy as hopping on my bike.

Up until recently, the demo unit Stream TV Networks used was experimental and looked it. The pre-production unit I describe in this article has spectacularly better-looking image quality than what the press saw at CES or ar CE week in NYC.

Furthermore, it was the movie of my choice, playing through a standard Samsung 3D Blu-ray player. Not a special "demo loop." I walked all over the place—I thought I described it clearly in the article—3D viewing angles were great, beyond what I'd tolerate for 2D. Simply put, it worked. I've got a decent passive 3D Vizio HDTV at home, so I can judge.
post #20 of 106
Quote:
Originally Posted by imagic View Post

Nor did I, but that's what I saw with my own eyes—and since this pre-production unit had just arrived, I'm one of the very first to lay eyes on it, which is why it has not been covered elsewhere. Lucky me, I live in Philly so getting to the office right after this unit arrived was as easy as hopping on my bike.

Up until recently, the demo unit Stream TV Networks used was experimental and looked it. The pre-production unit I describe in this article has spectacularly better-looking image quality than what the press saw at CES or ar CE week in NYC.

Furthermore, it was the movie of my choice, playing through a standard Samsung 3D Blu-ray player. Not a special "demo loop." I walked all over the place—I thought I described it clearly in the article—3D viewing angles were great, beyond what I'd tolerate for 2D. Simply put, it worked. I've got a decent passive 3D Vizio HDTV at home, so I can judge.



Mark do any of the Chinese companies go to CES or CE?
post #21 of 106
I find this really interesting on a technical standpoint. I still don't understand how you can get 3D without glasses!

but for personal use, i'm still disappointed in the 'progress' of flat panel technology. it seems at every step they go in the opposite direction I would like. the one nice thing is maybe this will bring full array backlights back from the dead!
post #22 of 106
Quote:
Originally Posted by fierce_gt View Post

I find this really interesting on a technical standpoint. I still don't understand how you can get 3D without glasses!

but for personal use, i'm still disappointed in the 'progress' of flat panel technology. it seems at every step they go in the opposite direction I would like. the one nice thing is maybe this will bring full array backlights back from the dead!

I'm sure you've seen plenty of 3D without glasses...those 3D greeting cards probably work on a similar design principle. The Nintendo 3DS is also a pretty good example of auto stereoscopic 3D, it works quite well most of the time. I've seen it in PC monitors as well....I've just never seen it on a big screen. I don't expect it to be 100% artifact free, because neither active or passive glasses are perfect. It just has to be good enough.

If anything would prevent me from jumping right on board, it'd be the underlying display panel, not the quality of the 3D itself.
post #23 of 106
I understand, think I just need to see it with my own eyes is all.
post #24 of 106
This is what we need for 3D to really take off. I love 3D but hate the glasses. I'd be interested if any of this new tech can somehow be applied to projectors....
post #25 of 106
Quote:
Originally Posted by imagic View Post

Not a special "demo loop." I walked all over the place—I thought I described it clearly in the article—3D viewing angles were great, beyond what I'd tolerate for 2D. Simply put, it worked. I've got a decent passive 3D Vizio HDTV at home, so I can judge.

Whoops -- I may have conveniently glossed over that particular part of the article biggrin.gif Sorry
post #26 of 106
Quote:
Originally Posted by Done Deal DR View Post

I understand, think I just need to see it with my own eyes is all.

Yeah, I know exactly what you mean. I remember the first time I heard about the 3DS, I was totally skeptical. Then you see and it's just "oh...that totally works." I take imagic at his word, if he says it works this well, I believe it in theory...I just really need to see it with my own eyes as well.
post #27 of 106
Mark, did they give any expected timeline for FPJ, a couple years or so? Or was it just "in the works"?

If they want to license it, this would be great for Vizio, an American company, to get on board with and show we're not falling behind the competition!
post #28 of 106
Quote:
Originally Posted by comfynumb View Post


Mark do any of the Chinese companies go to CES or CE?


Yes, Hisense and TCL were both at CES 2013, and I expect to see them there again in January.

post #29 of 106
Quote:
Originally Posted by bd2003 View Post

I'm sure you've seen plenty of 3D without glasses...those 3D greeting cards probably work on a similar design principle. The Nintendo 3DS is also a pretty good example of auto stereoscopic 3D, it works quite well most of the time. I've seen it in PC monitors as well....I've just never seen it on a big screen. I don't expect it to be 100% artifact free, because neither active or passive glasses are perfect. It just has to be good enough.
I've actually never seen anything in '3D', i'm blind in one eye.

that's why it's purely a technological interest to me. can't be something I just experience, I want it explained to me, haha

my question is actually how does it work for 2D. for me, i'd love the idea of glasses free 3D just so that I could watch 'normally' and still let others enjoy their 3D. it's a little annoying having to wear glasses just to see the movie in 2D right now.
Quote:
If anything would prevent me from jumping right on board, it'd be the underlying display panel, not the quality of the 3D itself.

that's been my 'pet peeve' about TV's for about 4yrs now. it seems like manufacturers keep adding features(3d, smart TV's, etc) instead of just fixing the problems with backlight uniformity, contrast/blacks, motion resolution, etc. i'd much prefer somebody produce a display that shows near perfect 2D images than one that has every feature known to man but looks like garbage
Edited by fierce_gt - 8/5/13 at 9:54pm
post #30 of 106
This is tremendous news.

Is this tech even compatible with projectors in theory? Or are we relegated to waiting for large enough flat panels (for those of us who are spoiled with projectors). I dislike wearing 3D glasses, and I also believe that once decent glasses-free 3D came out it would be a game-changer.

I can't wait to try this! As a fan of Occulus Rift, this could very well be the counterpart to that innovation in the displays area. More 3D content the better. And certainly no one loves wearing 3D glasses for fun, especially those who wear regular glasses as well (or so I hear). I personally could never bear having problems with my vision if I could avoid it, and I'd get my eyes fixed. Glasses-free 3D is really the holy grail I think, except for true VR since you really need to be able to move your head and have it react to your motion, to get that feeling of "Presence".
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