Stereoscopic Broadcasting Begins
With the hubbub surrounding cinema 3.0, and 3D stereoscopy in the cinemas, it seemed only a matter of time before stereoscopy as the next great buzzword of the passive entertainment industry (broadcast networks) started to filter into broadcasting.
Of course a standard TV set is incapable of processing two simultaneous visual signals, so a whole new range of hardware will be necessary, despite the proliferation of VR stereoscopic devices already on the market, which could not possibly be adapted, apparently. So, 3D televisions and standard reception equipment are being set up at selected sites across Europe as part of practicality tests.
Videos are transmitted in a modified side-by-side arrangement. To view them, a 3D-capable television and appropriate glasses are required. As a pleasant surprise, ESA have gone with polarised shutter glasses, not anagraph VR, so full colour, high framerate images are to be expected. This is good, because many of the stereoscopic broadcasts will be in HD as well, doubling the bandwidth required to transmit them.
Transmission of a continuous 3D channel began on 12 March 2009. The channel offers a range of programme lengths and material, including sport, a short film and trailers, and events filmed in live 3D will be added just as soon as the companies behind it, notably ESA, figure out how.
The 'Stereoscopic Broadcasting' project, is conducted under the Advanced Research in Telecommunications Systems (ARTES) programme within ESA's Directorate of Telecommunications and Integrated Applications. This project is driving the uptake of broadcast stereoscopy, or as they term it, 'multiple video plus depth' transmissions, or '3D multiview video', or just plain old stereoscopy to everyone else.
Two types of reception sites are being created: one mimics a home environment using longer content, while the other is a public venue with shorter content. A 'home site' has been set up at ESTEC, ESA's research and technology centre in Noordwijk, the Netherlands.
However this pans out, it is no bad thing for interactive VR, as success will mean that stereoscopic equipment for our usage will be considerably cheaper to aquire than it is currently.