The DVB Project has responded to the strong rise in 3D with a programme of work which should lead to standards for 3DTV. The current plan is that the first phase of the 3DTV system will be agreed this year.
The DVB Project has established two groups of specialists. The first is currently preparing the commercial requirements for 3DTV. The second will respond with a technology that will meet the requirements. The technical system, once agreed by all concerned, will be submitted to the ETSI and ITU.
The Phase 1 system will allow viewers to keep and use their existing set-top box for 3D broadcasts, though they will require a new television display. Current 3DTV displays all call for the viewer to use special glasses to obtain the stereoscopic effect, but this is a familiar requirement for those who enjoy 3D at the cinema today.
A critical component of 3DTV using set-top boxes will be the connection between the set-top box and the 3DTV display, and here the DVB Project will be matching the provisions of the HDMI connector for the 3DTV environment. It is understood that the new 3D displays, soon to be available, will be compatible with the Phase 1 broadcast format.
The DVB commercial experts are also discussing a Phase 2 system which may be needed to meet other requirements. There may be the need for existing receivers to have available a 2D version of the same programme as part of the 3DTV channel, or the need for viewers to be able to adjust the picture depth for maximum ‘eye comfort’ (older people seem to prefer less depth in the picture than younger people, etc).
The specialist groups are led by David Wood (EBU) and David Daniels (BSkyB). Graham Mills (BT), Chair of the Commercial Module said, “DVB has been very successful in the past because its technical specifications are based upon, and are checked against, genuine commercial needs rather than engineers’ wish lists. We are following this pattern here with 3DTV”.