The glasses are probably one of the biggest downsides to a 3D home theater setup. Not only are the glasses expensive but most companies have designed their televisions to only be compatible with the 3D glasses that they make themselves. This means consumers are locked to a particular kind of glasses for the life of their TV. It appears TV manufacturers are looking to change that whole nonsense and develop some type of standard for 3D glasses.
Four companies, Panasonic, Samsung, Sony, and XpanD, are teaming up in what they are calling the “Full HD 3D Glasses Initiative.” The goal is to collaborate on a a standard for 3D glasses which uses radio frequency and “multiple types of infrared systems protocols.” Reading into that statement a bit suggests that the companies will take all of the existing IR protocols currently on the market and integrate them into this standard design. In theory that would make sense that the new standardized glasses be compatible with sets currently on the market and not only future sets.
XpanD is the only company in this collective which manufactures 3D glasses but not a TV to go along with them. The company has been quite vocal about the need for some type of eyewear standard for 3D TVs. Just last year Ami Dror, chief strategic officer, voiced the opinion to CNET that the current 3D glasses situation was making watching 3D TV a nightmare. “If you’re watching the Super Bowl at a party, would you expect the guy hosting to go buy 15 pairs of glasses?”
The real question about all of this is, are the non standard glasses really the problem? The truth is glasses are an annoyance overall, the lack of a standards isn’t really the problem. Consumers are likely holding out for glasses free technology to become cheaper and more prevalent. A study done last year indicated that over half of consumers weren’t buying 3D TVs because they didn’t want to wear the glasses. Most of those people felt that having the glasses on meant they couldn’t do anything else besides watch the TV.
These companies are looking to have the standard ready for licensing by next month and have the first pair of glasses out in 2012. The goal is to have the universal glasses be backwards compatible with 2011 TVs. Time will tell if this helps bolster 3D TV sales but this author is doubtful that it will suddenly spur the market.