Along with a few other tech journalists, I spent a couple of hours today over at the Westchester Country Club, which is gearing up for The Barclays PGA Tour event. What the hell was I doing there? Well, as part of a marketing deal with the PGA Tour, Mitsubishi is the "official large outdoor video display provider" of the Tour, and the PR team wanted us to see some of these displays in action--along with the Tour's ShotLink technology, which tracks players' shots almost down to the centimeter (the info is then displayed on those giant Mitsubishi scoreboards). That's all sorts of interesting if you're a golf fan, but things got a little sexier when Mitsubishi representatives took us into a hospitality suite, handed us each a pair of fancy 3D glasses (a little smaller than the ones shown in the photo), and showed us a demo of some new 3D-imaging technology the company's working on.
The demo was run from a massive Dell desktop and output onto a large DLP set. In an effort to inject new life into the fading rear-projection category, the company's pitch was that the 3D technology worked with existing DLP TVs and projectors (due to DLP's native 120Hz refresh rate, which allows you to split it into 60/60 for 3D) but not with LCD and plasma displays.
Most of us were pretty impressed by the demo, which included clips from movies, commercials, and sporting events. There was real depth to the 3D, and you got that 3D-feeling of objects poking out at you from the screen. All the demo material had been shot in 3D, but the kicker to the whole presentation was that Mitsubishi apparently has a Blu-ray player in its labs that can convert existing 2D movies into 3D on the fly. Better yet, according to company representatives, it may be available early next year.
I'm pretty skeptical that the technology is going to show up anytime soon, and I have my doubts that converted 2D content is going to look all that great in 3D. But the 3D movement is gathering more momentum, as other companies such as Samsung and Philips continue working on ways to bring 3D into the home. Ideally, you wouldn't have to wear glasses (Philips is trying to integrate 3D right into the display), but I have a feeling you're only going to get a true Imax-like 3D experience with some eyewear.
While Mitsubishi wasn't ready to talk pricing, one would expect to pay a premium for a special-featured Blu-ray player. That said, Mitsubishi hinted that it was in discussions with one game console manufacturer to integrate its 3D technology into the system. The Wii's not capable of such feats, and Microsoft's in the HD DVD camp, so one would have to assume it's Sony and the PS3.
I know, I know. It's all rampant conjecture. But eventually, HD and 2D just aren't going to cut it. We may be a few years away, but there's chatter out there. Anybody out there itching for 3D at home?