Sony will next year launch a television capable of showing 3D images, it said on Wednesday at the IFA electronics fair in Berlin. The TV will be the first step in what is expected to be a big push by the consumer electronics company to popularize 3D movies, TV and computer games.
"3D is clearly on its way to the mass market," said Sony CEO Howard Stringer during a news conference. He cited movies, sports and computer games as areas the technology is expected to have its biggest impact.
The TV, which will be part of its Bravia LCD range, will launch sometime during 2010 and require users to wear special glasses to get the 3D effect. The glasses have filters in them that switch on and off at high speed matched to the image coming from the TV set so each eye sees a slightly different image.
In addition to the set, Sony said it would add 3D compatibility to other electronics products including Vaio laptops, the PlayStation 3 games console and Blu-ray Disc players. Earlier in the day the Blu-ray Disc Association said it would add 3D support to the format thus helping to create a common standard for content on video discs.
The technology to make and show 3D movies and television programs has been around for decades but has repeatedly failed to take off. In recent years the movie industry has looked to 3D as a way to get people back into movie theaters and the number of screens capable of showing 3D movies has increased. There are expected to be 7,000 3D screens at the end of the year, according to data presented by Sony.
But despite the growing number of screens, the amount of 3D content is still relatively small.
Stringer emphasized Sony's broad reach into all areas of the content business as an advantage for the company. Through its many divisions it owns both movie studios and television stations and produces hardware from the cameras used to make movies to the projectors and televisions used to show the content.
Pulling all of this together to create a chain of 3D content will be a key test of Stringer's reforms at Sony. When he took over as CEO in 2005 he found a dysfunctional company where business units would rather set their own course than work together.
Stringer has worked to break down internal barriers but despite several rounds of restructuring and layoffs, the company continues to report poor results. In its most recent quarter, the key electronics division reported record losses. A management reshuffle earlier this year saw executives close to Stringer installed on the company's board increasing his power but the effects are yet to be seen.