3D Digital Frame Technology

The push from 2D to 3D technology will probably be one of the next important movements in the electronics industry. Applications of 3D content are being developed for TVs, notebooks, monitors, digital photo frames and cameras, game consoles, cell phones and other electronic devices as well.

3D Anaglyph Images

Anaglyphs are traditional 3D images. They have been around since 1853 when they were first developed in Germany. In very simple terms, an anaglyph image superimposes a pair of pictures, one for each eye, which results in a 3-dimensional image in a single picture. The left eye image is filtered to remove blue & green. The right eye image is filtered to remove red. When seen through appropriately colored glass, each eye sees a slightly different picture. The brain will blend the 2 images and see the result as different distances, creating a stereographic image.

Himax Technologies, Inc.

Himax, based in Taiwan has partnered with the Perceptual Video Lab of National Taiwan University to produce a technological advancement which can convert any 2D image into a 3D format. This conversion utilizes human visual perception characteristics which can be applied to images from electronic devices such as TVs and digital frames. More 3D details should be revealed in the images with this conversion solution and a more comfortable and enjoyable viewing experience will be possible.

3D Digital Photo Frames

A few examples of conversion from 2D to 3D in digital photo frames have already been introduced:

    eMotion 3D Photo Frame

    The eMotion 3D Photo Frame is touted by its manufacturer, The Media Street Group, as the very first 3D Digital Photo Frame. Their software technology can convert a standard digital photo into an image that looks 3 dimensional.

    The best part is that no special glasses are needed. It’s all in the software. The frame will also play 3D movies and videos.

eMotion 3D Digital Frame



    Sony’s Display Prototype

    Sony has introduced a 3D display prototype. Not only can the picture be viewed without using glasses, it can be viewed from 360 degrees! The prototype is a 24-bit color image that measures 96x128 pixels.

    This Sony 3D display was produced in a cylindrical shape which may mean that to view pictures in 360 degrees, a larger frame would have to be as wide as it is deep. This may make for a bulkier device than may be acceptable in our current flat-screen environment.



Sony 3D Prototype



    Frame Wizard Frame & Software (Trademark of FaceCake Marketing Technologies, Inc.)

    The Frame Wizard software, which currently will only work when installed in a Frame Wizard Digital frame, can make photos appear to come to life! 2D still photos turn into 3D moving images almost like magic! Eyes blink, leaves fall, waves break in the background of your pictures and the dog wags its tail!

    Though not wireless, these are full-function digital photo frames. The 7” and 8” models have screen resolutions of 800 x 600 and the 15” frame has a resolution of 1024 x 768. The aspect ratio is portrait (4:3). A large internal memory of 2GB is included. The frames come equipped with remote control units.

    JPEG, PNG, BMP and GIF images are recognized, as well as mp3 and wma audio files and mpeg 1, 2 and 4 and avi video formats.

    The modern black wood frame comes with built-in stereo speakers, a USB port(with included cable) and options for SD (Secure Digital), MS (Memory Stick and xD Picture Card memory card formats, as well as CF (Compact Flash), which is available only on the 15” frame.

    The smaller frame is compatible with Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7. The larger frames are also compatible with Macs.

    The software consists of 4 parts. They are Moving Memories (facial expressions, tail wagging, etc.), Element Effects (swirling leaves, snow, etc.), Change of Scenery (from in the house to on the lawn, for ex.), and Matte Magic which provides a variety of different mattes. (The smaller frame only provides Element Effects and Matte Magic).

Frame Wizard 3D Digital Photo Frame

    iSpecs-Portable 3D from Apple

    This new output from Apple will be a wearable set of glasses that can be plugged into the iPod, iPhone and possibly, the iPad making it possible to watch videos in 3D on these devices.

    The lenses will be able to split the image into 2 different frames. This will produce a stereoscopic image that will create the illusion of 3D.

    Additionally, the iSpecs will include a camera and IR sensors so that images of the outside world can get into the lenses onto a smaller screen. That way, the viewer will be aware of something needing his or her attention away from the video.

    It is promised that the glasses will be able to track eye movements in order to adjust the images. Head movements could be used to control certain functions also.

Why 3D?

Why not? We are living in times of great advancements in every technology. Enhancing the images in digital frames is a logical side effect of the industry’s desire to capture the imagination of its consumers.

More and more digital frames are being used in the home and at the office to share memories and start conversations. On the commercial scene, the use of 3D frames in digital advertising signage represents an alternate and very effective means of capturing the attention of an audience of consumers.

Now on Amazon -- 3D 101 -- Anything 3D!

Amazon.com recognizes the amazing worldwide success of Avatar and other 3D theatrical releases. To share in the excitement of this rapidly advancing technology, Amazon has launched its new customer-oriented educational site called Amazon 3D 101 On this site, customers can choose from a number of educational videos to help understand what 3D is and how it works. Buying guides are available to help find everything needed to create the best 3D experience at home.

This site will feature a large selection of 3D products spanning multiple categories such as HDTVs, Blu-ray players, monitors, movies, etc.

With the impending launch of 3D cable channels such as ESPN 3D, DIRECT TV 3D, etc., as well as the advent of 3D video games, 3D is becoming more and more accessible. But this is just the beginning and as with any newer technology, it is best to get in on the ground floor.

Click here to access Amazon's 3D 101.

A 3D Photo Frame that Allows the Viewer See Around Images Without Special Glasses!

Newsight Japan 3D Photo Frame

At the SID (Society for Information Display) 2010, Newsight Japan introduced its first generation model of a 3D LCD photo frame. This frame goes a step farther than the usual 3D display in which the viewer can see which objects are closer in an image than others. With this frame, the viewer can peek around the images to see what's behind them!

To be able to do this, the display must support "motion parallax". This means that views change when you move your head. Displays such as holographs can also do this but typical stereoscopic displays (which include 3DTVs) can only display one image for each eye.

With this latest frame, a normal two-view stereoscopic image or a 2D single view JPEG image from a standard digital camera is processed through a PC program. This program will extract the depth information from the image and create five separate images. Thus you can see the image from 5 different angles.

The result is that when you move your head to one side or another, you can actually "see around" objects in the front of the image and see what's behind them! Even better, the design is auto-stereoscopic, meaning no special glasses are required.

The company promises the next generation of the photo frame will be able to convert 2D and 3D images directly from the frame, rather than going through a PC. A third generation model is planned so that two frames can send and receive images from each other.

An 8” Portable Digital Frame That Displays Photos and Videos in 3D-Without 3D Glasses!

Aiptek, founded in 1997, with main headquarters in Taiwan, as well as headquarters in Germany and in Irvine, CA, is the manufacturer of this new 3D digital photo frame.

Other company products include projectors, HD and Digital Camcorders (such as the PenCam and Pocket DV) and PC Tablets as well as other digital accessories such as memory cards, batteries and speakers, etc.

The new 3D Aiptek Digital Frame was designed to be used to display photos and videos taken with the company’s new 3D camcorder, the AHD-H12 LLS 3D. This camcorder represents Aiptek’s entry into the 3D market. The camcorder itself comes with software that converts 2D photos and videos into 3D and it can be switched to 2D mode for standard video taking.

Aiptek Camcorder

Aiptek 3D digital frame

NIKON Launching a New Service to Convert 2D to 3D Images in Japan

This online service will include the rental (not sale) of a digital photo frame from Nikon’s frame collection called the NF-300i. This frame, which will be used for the conversion, is quite impressive with a 7.2 inch widescreen format with 800x600 resolution. It runs Android 2.1 and comes with a 4GB internal memory and ports for Ethernet, USB and Wi-Fi connections. A remote control is also included. These frames will also be able to communicate with each other.

Glasses will not be needed for viewing the 3D photos. Autostereoscopic 3D is a technology that allows 3D devices such as digital photo frames to have displays that give the perception of depth. Thousands of tiny mirrors are used to make a flat screen appear as if it isn’t flat. Nikon explains its 3D process as a “system in which a lenticular lens consisting of an array of countless long, thin cylindrical convex lenses is attached to an image display LCD. These lenses distribute the left eye image and right eye image, creating a stereoscopic image”.

Using the Android platform will enable users to connect to the Internet and search through their photos using specific search parameters such as the dates pictures were taken. The Android platform will also enable other functions such as a calendar, a clock and weather and news information display. Simple web browsing is also possible.

Nikon’s on-line photo sharing and storage service, my Picturetown, is the starting place for the 3D conversion of 2D images stored on my Picturetown. The new 3D conversion service is called my Picturetown 3D. Users will be required to register and pay a monthly fee to have the 2D photos they have stored on my Picturetown converted to 3D photos through my Picturetown 3D. Users can then share their photos through the use of the Nikon 300i digital photo frame.

This is certainly a step forward but will only be available in Japan at first. USA consumers may balk at the fact that there will be a monthly fee charged for the 3D conversion service. Perhaps by the time the service gets to the US (if it does), feedback from Japanese users can be used to pave the way for a service palatable for US consumers.

More About 3D Glasses

Modern 3D technology is an old technology that is re-emerging in a technically superior form and spreading quickly to all types of electronic devices such as TVs, Blu-ray players, digital photo frames and more. Whether special 3D glasses will be required brings up the discussion of what types of 3D glasses are and will become available for viewing 3D images in the home environment.

Types of 3D Glasses

3D glasses currently fall into 2 main classes:

Active Shutter Glasses

These glasses use an infrared beam from an electronic device such as a TV to synchronize LCD shutters in the glasses. This will trick the brain into thinking it is seeing only one 3D image from 2 alternating frames. These glasses require batteries and can cost over $100 a pair.

Samsung and Sony use active shutter glasses. Nvidia, which uses 3D technology for 3D computer gaming, also uses active shutter glasses.

Passive and Dolby

These are the 3D glasses commonly used by movie theaters to show 3D movies. Movie theaters use a format called RealD or polarized for delivering 3D movies. Passive glasses use circular polarizing filters which send different images to each eye. Dolby 3D glasses are also used in movie theaters and they employ a different kind of passive technique. Passive glasses are much cheaper than active shutter glasses and do not require batteries.

3D TVs that use passive 3D technology will probably first come from companies such as Vizio and LG. These will require a micro-polarizing filter which will be embedded in the screen of the TV.

How 3D Distributors use Existing Bandwidth for full HD Resolution

Distributors of 3D programming such as cable and satellite companies take a full 1920 x1080 HD resolution feed and then reduce the bandwidth requirements in order to use existing bandwidth to distribute 3D programming.

There are 2 techniques currently in use:

Side-by-Side

One-half of the 1920 horizontal pixels are removed leaving 960 pixels side by side, one for each eye.

Over-Under

One-half of the 1080 vertical pixels are removed leaving 540 lines one on top of the other, one for each eye.

3DTVs supporting active shutter glasses will take one of these half-resolution frames and add the missing pixels through special techniques. Those 3DTVs using passive glasses may add missing horizontal pixels but will still show only half of the vertical pixels.

Problems with Removing One-Half of the Pixels

Image quality and brightness could suffer when using the technique of removing one-half of the pixels that originally came from a 3D camera. Some of the image quality will definitely be lost although some will come back through pixel-adding techniques that can be used. Brightness may also be reduced.

On the other hand, there are experts that state your brain will compensate for any missing pixels and you won't really notice any difference. As far as brightness is concerned, LCD TVs can compensate for some of that loss because of their capacity to generate a lot of light.

What About 3D Digital Frames that Do Not Require Glasses?

The technology used by digital frame manufacturers is different from that used for 3D viewing in movie theaters and on TV and Blu-ray screens. Digital frames are themselves still in their formative years. It remains to be seen how the 3D formats used by different digital frame manufacturers will be viewed by consumers as that branch of the digital frame industry goes forward.

The 3D Experience

3D is very cool. There is no doubt about that. But without a standard in place for how we view 3D, it can make the purchase of a 3D device disappointing. The equipment (glasses and/or device) can easily turn out to be one that is not supported. Your glasses, whether active shutter, passive or Dolby may not necessarily work with your chosen electronic device. The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) is currently working on a standard for glasses used to view 3D movies in the home and this will definitely make a big step forward in taking the confusion out of the 3D technology industry.


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