Universal 3D Glasses Are Near

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Manufacturers working on a standard for 3D glasses.
Soon 3D active shutter glasses could be nearly universal allowing you to use specs purchased for your Sony 3D HDTV to watch a movie on your friend's Panasonic set. That's what four major 3D companies are hoping for anyway. Panasonic, Samsung, Sony and 3D glasses maker XPAND 3D announced Monday the Full HD 3D Glasses Initiative. The goal of the initiative is to create a technology standard for 3D active shutter glasses making them compatible with other manufacturers' sets. The group plans to introduce a licensing standard for the new technology by September with compatible glasses available to the public sometime in 2012.

The new initiative builds on XPAND 3D's announcement in March 2010 to create a universal standard for 3D active shutter glasses.

Active Roadblock

One of the many annoyances home users have found with 3D television sets is the lack of compatibility between active shutter glasses and television sets produced by differing manufacturers. Many are also put off by the high cost of 3D active shutter glasses. Market research firm NPD Group said in July that consumers not interested in the 3D craze cited active shutter glasses as the major barrier to purchase for new 3D HDTVs.

Active shutter glasses are generally tied to a specific television manufacturer. This is due in part to the differing technologies manufacturers employ for glasses to communicate with each company's 3D HDTV sets-a problem the new initiative hopes to solve. Although the new glasses will use newly developed technology, the glasses will be backward compatible with 2011 active 3DTVs, the four companies said.

Pricey Glasses

Costs associated with glasses are also a big barrier to adoption. Prices generally range from as low as $40 to more than $100 per pair of active shutter glasses. So 3D glasses add an additional $200 to a 3D TV purchase for a four-member household.

Those prices, not to mention the lack of compatibility, make parties for 3D movies or sporting events harder to put together. Few people want to spend a minimum of $400 so that at least 10 of your friends can watch your brand new 3D set at one time.

3D Future Murky

Despite the best intentions of broadcasters and filmmakers invested in more 3D content, and television manufacturers hoping to spark a 3D home viewing craze, the future of 3D TV in the U.S. is unclear. The Nielsen Company in December reported that in a survey of more than 27,000 online consumer worldwide, 59 percent of North American respondents said they were "definitely not interested" in buying a 3D set. Market analysis firm SNL Kagan in June said just 2 percent of U.S. households would have 3D sets by the end of 2011, according to Broadcasting and Cable. But in May DisplaySearch, a company owned by market research firm NPD Group, said 3D LCD panel shipments grew by 104 percent during the first quarter of 2011.

Connect with Ian Paul ( @ianpaul ) and Today@PCWorld on Twitter for the latest tech news and analysis.

This story, "Universal 3D Glasses Are Near" was originally published by PCWorld.

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