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Toshiba Readying 3D TV That Doesn't Require Glasses

Toshiba's imaging system emits rays of light at different angles, making it possible for viewers to recreate a 3D image in their brains that can be seen from different angles.
Toshiba is said to be planning the release this year of 3D televisions that do not require people to wear special glasses, an inconvenience that analysts say has hampered sales.

Toshiba plans to release three models, including one with a 21-inch screen, the Japanese newspaper The Yomiuri Shimbun reported, quoting company sources. The TVs are expected to cost several thousand yen and could arrive in time for the holiday shopping season. A hundred thousand yen is roughly equal to $1,180.

The newspaper did not say whether the TVs would be available outside of Japan. Toshiba confirmed that it's working on 3D TVs that don't require glasses, but declined to discuss the technology or when the TVs would be available.

"We are developing 3D TVs without the need for glasses, but cannot comment further as we have yet to decide upon when to commercialize such a product, concrete specifications, or any other details," the company said in a statement emailed Wednesday to InformationWeek.

Toshiba's innovation in 3D TVs is in developing an imaging system that emits rays of light at different angles, making it possible for viewers to recreate a 3D image in their brains, according to Shimbun. The technology doesn't strain the eyes and the 3D image can be seen from different angles.

Today's 3D TVs emit separate images for the left and the right eye in order to enable the brain to build a 3D image. The glasses act as a filter, so the correct image is viewed by either the left or right eye.

TVs that don't require glasses to view 3D could provide a needed boost to the technology. Despite the success of 3D Hollywood movies and a major marketing push by major TV manufacturers, consumer interest remains low, due in part by high prices and the scarcity of 3D content. Forrester Research predicts that sales of 3D TVs in the United States, considered a major market, will stay well below a million units this year.

Contributing to the high price of the technology are the glasses. Manufacturers typically offer one pair of glasses with a 3D TV, but additional pairs cost more than $100 each. The added cost on top of the price of the sets often give families one more reason not to buy a 3D TV.

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