Thursday, December 9, 2010

Idea: Upgrade 3D TVs to enable viewing of two different TV shows at once

It recently occurred to me that with a few minor tweaks, current 3D TVs could be modified to allow two people to simultaneously watch two different TV shows.

Given the scarcity of 3D content and the millions of couples frequently watching TV shows which are interesting to one but not the other, it seems to me that adding this new dual-channel watching capability to TVs would be very popular. It may very well see much more usage than the current level of 3D content viewing and help drive sales of new 3D TV sets.

At first blush, the tweaks to enable this require the TV to alternate its display, not between left/right images, but between the frames of two (2D) shows and have each person's 3D glasses synchronized with the proper show. The TV could implement a display sequence such as:

- Frame 1-Show A
- Frame 1-Show B
- Frame 2-Show A
- Frame 2-Show B
...and so on

The glasses' firmware could include a new viewing mode where both lenses are simultaneously either opaque or transparent, and synchronized so that each viewer sees only the show they want to view. Alternatively, it may be desirable to follow the current approach of having one lens opaque while the other is transparent, but this may require a more complex TV frame display sequencing approach. Our persistence of vision would give each viewer the illusion that they are watching a single, smooth display of their particular TV show.

In addition to the above, the TV (or a third-party set-top box) would have to stream the audio signals for both TV shows to the glasses, and the glasses (which would require added earbuds) would have to decode the appropriate audio signal.

Please note that many DVRs can already decode two or more HD shows at the same time. So, there really isn't that big of a technology gap between the capabilities of the current 3D TVs and enabling them to simultaneously display two TV shows.

Some TVs may even be capable of allowing the simultaneous viewing of two 3D TV shows. It depends on how quickly the display can be refreshed along with how fast the pixel decay rate is for the display type.

[Application to gaming: It also occurred to me that the same basic idea might allow two people to play two different video games at the same time. Also, for two-player games, each player could see their screen at full resolution as opposed to a split-screen view. This would also prevent the cheating that sometimes occurs with split-screen mode.]

Plasma TVs, due to their faster pixel decay rate, may be more suitable for dual-channel viewing than other types of displays.

Another related capability I would like to see is for TVs to support the display of 3D stereoscopic still photographs, one of my hobbies.

Copyright (c) Richard Creamer 2010 - All Rights Reserved


  1. makes sense, you'd just have to solve the audio issue

  2. Also this idea was printed years ago (~1980s) in an electronics magazine summer special (Elecktor Electronics I think). It had the glass with relays to switch the viewers frame on and off - looked really Heath Robinson. Now with LCD etc this idea would be neater. For the Audio one viewer could have the left channel split and the the other the right.

    1. Paul, thank you for the posting. I was not aware of this. It just goes to show that there are very few new/unique ideas;-)