Dolby is one of the biggest names in audio or video. Dolby technologies are core parts of the vast majority of the hardware and software on the market; odds are good that every piece of equipment in your home theater uses Dolby’s work. So, the fact that a company like this would produce formal standards for 3D video is a big deal; it’s one of the things that’s sealed the technology as a permanent part of the market, as opposed to a passing fad. There are actually two distinct technologies that go by the name Dolby 3D, though; that can lead to some confusion. However, odds are good that you’re interested in the more recent of these – Dolby’s new solution for 3D video in the home environment.
The home version of the technology is a brand-new standard for glasses-free 3D televisions, developed in tandem with Phillips. “Glasses-free” here doesn’t refer to a bulky head-mounted display or other impractical solution – this is intended for autostereoscopic displays. Autostereoscopy is the logical next step for 3D television, so focusing on it makes sense; the end goal is to make depth something like color, unobtrusively providing a new dimension to pictures. That can’t be done while 3D televisions are still dependent on clunky glasses, so – even though there aren’t many suitable televisions in the wild yet – it’s the best way to future-proof the specification. Not all of the Dolby 3D technologies are incompatible with traditional glasses-based 3D displays, but these are not the target. That makes it essentially unique in this field.
For a closer look at the features, specifications and technical details, check out the Dolby 3D brochure.
Right now, there’s not much consistency between the 3D features provided by different televisions. As long as they’re all capable of handling the same data, what they do with it is largely up to the discretion of the device manufacturer; this means that – while there are certainly some truly exceptional pieces of equipment out there – most of what’s on the market is fairly basic.
Dolby 3D Potential
Dolby 3D is young. Its benefits exist largely in theory, on paper. However, it’s not hard to see the potential of having a variety of glasses-free 3D televisions with the same top-notch video processing and customization features on the market. It’s still entirely possible for Dolby to drop the ball, but it’s not likely – initial impressions of televisions equipped with Dolby 3D features have been overwhelmingly positive. With even relatively early-generation panels, you’re able to produce truly stunning video quality and a lifelike sensation of depth; Dolby’s software can do great things with even immature hardware. In just a few years’ time, then? It’s very possible that you’ll start to see a situation where 3D ceases to even be a special feature – it’s just something that’s there. You won’t notice that you’re watching a 3D movie; you’ll just happen to see depth in the screen, like you do in the world around you.