Samsung signs RealD in nascent 3D TV market

The 3D TV era is just beginning, and RealD snags Samsung as a partner that will use its technology. Don't expect to lose the 3D glasses anytime soon, though.

Samsung Electronics has announced a partnership to use RealD's 3D display technology in its TVs, a move that could help to extend RealD's business from theaters today to the home tomorrow.

"Together, we are committed to enhancing the TV viewing experience with the best that 3D technology can offer including immersive, lifelike depth and a new realm of color clarity," Dongho Shin, senior vice president of Samsung Electronics' Visual Display Division, said in a statement.

3D display technology today is generally limited to premium movie theater screens, with RealD vying against Dolby 3D from Dolby Labs and XpanD. But home 3D theater is the next frontier. High-profile 3D movies, most notably James Cameron's "Avatar," are nudging 3D technology toward the mainstream in both movie creation and display.

The tricky problem with 3D is making sure that people's left and right eyes see the same scene from slightly different perspectives, letting the brain reconstruct the 3D world. The screening today typically is done with special glasses--not the red and blue cardboard models from decades past but a variety of other more sophisticated technologies. RealD uses polarized light to separate the right-eye and left-eye views.

The 3D TV market is tiny but growing, according to a report released Monday by DisplaySearch.

3D TV is forecast to be a growing market.
3D TV is forecast to be a growing market. DisplaySearch

The 200,000 3D TVs shipped in 2009 will grow to 64 million in 2018, the market researcher predicts, and revenue from their sales will increase from a sliver today to $17 billion in 2018.

Don't expect to lose the 3D glasses anytime soon, though.

"Eyewear will be necessary for most 3D applications for many years to come, due to the limitations of auto-stereoscopic (no glasses) technologies," DisplaySearch said.