By : Erik Gruenwedel, Chris Tribbey | Posted: 23 Dec 2009
A new Thomson Reuters Global Intellectual Property report that looks at the patents for 3D-related technology supports the notion that 3D TV and 3D photography technological innovation is outpacing that for cinema.
The move to integrate 3D movies into the home has resulted in a surge of technology patents over the past five years, notably for projection systems, specialized glasses, cleaning apparatus and registration systems for glasses, according to the study.
With the release of major 3D movies across 7,000 screens globally in 2009 such as Avatar, Bolt, Beowulf, Monsters vs. Aliens, Coraline, Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, G-Force, The Final Destination, Toy Story, Up, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs and A Christmas Carol, patent activity aimed at bringing 3D movies to the television increased 69% from 2003 to 2008, excluding 486 patents filed in the first half of 2009.
“While the blockbuster hits from the likes of Pixar and DreamWorks have commanded the most attention for 3D in the popular press, the real hot spots of three-dimensional technology innovation are in television and still-photography applications, which have both seen sharp increases in patenting activity over the last five years,” the study says.
In 2008 and through the first half of 2009, there were more than 1,500 patents filed for technology related to the development of 3D TV and nearly 1,100 filed for 3D photography technology. By comparison, only 210 patents were filed for 3D cinema technology.
Samsung, Panasonic and Toshiba spearheaded efforts by consumer electronics manufacturers to migrate the 3D theatrical experience into the home television, including 30 patents filed in 2008 related to lenticular lenses, which create a more natural 3D viewing experience without the need for special glasses, according to the report. The United States was home to the majority of the filed patents, with 34%.
By comparison, Thomson Reuters found that patent activity for 3D theatrical increased 45% from 2003 to 2008, not including 61 patents filed this year for projection technologies, anti-piracy systems and 3D editing spearheaded by Seiko Epson, Sony and RealD, among others.
Indeed, the Blu-ray Disc Association earlier this month finalized 3D specifications for the high-def format, allowing future 3D content to be viewed in 1080p on any 3D compatible display. 3D technology in the home, along with Blu-ray, are expected to be main components of home entertainment offerings at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January.
The report also found that a team of University of Tokyo researchers has developed a system that displays animated 3D holograms that respond to human touch, similar to technology incorporated in the Nintendo Wii videogame system.
"In the right hands, it may play a leading role in a future summer blockbuster movie," said the report. "As current levels of patent activity affirm ... it will only be a matter of time before 3D televisions start showing up in the home."