World standards body maps out 3D TV generations
From stereoscopy to holography
Standards setter the International Telecommuncations Union (ITU) has established a far-reaching roadmap for 3D TV technology, though it admits it will take at least 20 years for its more advanced notions to be realised.
The ITU's roadmap, announced today, defines the next three generations of 3D TV, kicking off with today's stereoscopic technology and taking us to holographic images.
Unsurprisingly, it can't yet say how the latter is to be achieved, but you can't blame it for at least paving the way for such advanced image recording. All three generations, however, will be viewed using two-dimensional displays.
Pragmatically, the focus of the ITU Radiocommunications Study Group 6 is stereoscopic 3D in which separate left- and right-eye HD images are transmitted alternately and special glasses ensure the correct eye sees the correct picture.
The Group will work to define a series of "globally agreed" standards to which equipment manufacturers, film makers and broadcasters can adhere. But the organisation said the technology will be just as applicable to other areas where visual content can be enhanced into a third dimension. Air traffic control, for example.
Today's 3D TV pictures don't change when you move your point of view, but the ITU said the next generation of the technology will enable just that. It will require the transmission of multiple 3D images in parallel, each view selected as the playback system tracks the motion of the viewer.
Like the 3D TVs demo'd at last week's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, second-gen tellies will need to be paired with special spectacles.
Looking further ahead, the ITU also defined the third generation of the 3D TV technology as "systems that record the amplitude, frequency and phase of light waves, to reproduce almost completely human beings' natural viewing environment".
Since any hologram can be represented mathematically, it can also be stored and transmitted as data. But even with a 1080p resolution, that's going to require some fearsome transmission bandwidth and data-compression technology. But it does mean that, like conventional still-image holography, you won't need special glasses to view 3D pictures.
Alas, beyond the 15-20 year wait for the techniques that will make 3G 3D TV work, the ITU didn't say much about its the timeframes in which it is anticipating successive generations will emerge. ®
A big 'so what' from this corner. I've seen a couple of films with sound. Including the much-vaunted Jazz Singer, and I remain unconvinced that it's anything more than a gimmick.
Yes there are occasional 'ooh' moments when objects appear a bit louder, but these few and far between parts really aren't worth the noise or the higher ticket price. On the whole I really don't think watching films with sound is any more immersive than normal. The film industry should just spend the money on making better films!
Paving the way?
"you can't blame it for at least paving the way for such advanced image recording"
Cool, all I have to do is dream up a "standard" for living forever and suddenly I am "paving the way" for everyone to become immortal.
Here is my standard:
Life expectancy = infinity (+/- 10%)
Make sure to mention my name in any stories regarding extension of human life as I am a key enabler of this technology via my standard.
"the ITU said the next generation of the technology will enable just that. It will require the transmission of multiple 3D images in parallel, each view selected as the playback system tracks the motion of the viewer."
What about people who (*gasp*) watch TV with friends and family? Which viewer exactly is the TV expected to track.
Agreed.. with caveats
The principle is simply "a recording of the interference pattern (i.e. of phase differences)", but the practicalities are somewhat more involved. I stand by my assertion that the person who talked of recording the phase of light waves didn't understand holography very well.
A holographic camera based on phase differences/interference patterns is never going to be able to image a football being kicked towards it in an outdoor football pitch. Natural illumination isn't self coherent, so you can't have a coherent to it reference beam of light. Even with coherent lighting, the interference patterns would be changing far too quickly.
A holographic display might well be possible in the future but there are easier ways to achieve similar results.
Talking to yourself is the first sign of madness, but...
"That would let you watch a football match (*) from a (mobile) vantage point anywhere within the scene itself. At a pinch, this is probably possible with today's technology."
It occurs to me that this is *certainly* possible, since TV football coverage already does it, for looking at dodgy off-side decisions. All we need now is someone to write an applet to turn 26 positions (players, officials and ball) into a plausible rendering of a footy match in time for the world cup.
It wouldn't even need to be a plausible rendering. You could replace the players with nude models or aliens. Endless fun. Remember, you heard it here first, even if some yank files the first patent in a few years time.