New 3D tech changes 2D to 3D, glasses-required to glasses-free

Watching a movie in 3D can be fun and immersive. But do we really need the clunky glasses? Turns out, no. At CES, Stream TV Networks showed off a new technology that transforms the unwieldy 3D-viewing experience into one that's more seamless. One big downside though, the P word: "proprietary."

Though that can be a turn off, the company's Ultra-D technology is nonetheless intriguing for how it attempts to solve existing problems that plague TV set manufacturers, including cumbersome 3D glasses and lack of content for cutting-edge hardware.

"True 3D should be like looking out a window," CEO Mathu Rajan said at Stream TV's press conference. But those glasses create an experience that's rife with friction.

Ultra-D, featured only on Pegatron-manufactured TV sets, addresses these issues by automatically converting 2D content to 3D, and content for 3D sets requiring glasses to glasses-free 3D.

Unlike the big TV manufacturers at CES, instead of announcing a new 4K television, the Philadelphia-based company is pushing its algorithm that adds pixels to input content to generate a 2160p resolution. This might seem like a cop-out solution for not offering a higher-resolution screen, but there are a number of practical considerations here, in addition to making up for the lack of 4K content. Ultra-D's 2160p format uses the roughly same amount of bandwidth as 1080p, allowing consumers to take advantage of the existing global infrastructure. Ultra-D compatibility also extends to content on Blu-Ray, iTunes, Apple TV, game consoles, TV channels and more.

Watching on an Ultra-D set also ensures there's no such thing as a bad seat in the house, so viewing angles don't impact the image quality. Stream TV says Ultra-D outputs imaging that has more clarity and brightness than typical 3D sets. The technology also allows viewers to adjust the drama of the 3D effect just like a 3DS, allowing for a more subdued natural-looking 3D, all the way to a ramped-up version where the picture's jumping out at you.

Putting aside the P word, Stream TV seems to be on to something that takes away the fuss of 3D viewing, and doing so in a way that takes advantage of existing infrastructure, making this a futuristic technology that today's technology can handle.

Posted on location at CES 2013 in Las Vegas.

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