Panasonic is looking to sell plasma televisions that can display three-dimensional pictures in 2010, with the technology and content both finally ready for the mass market.
"It's going to feature in every aspect of home entertainment. That's how strongly we feel about it," said Eisuke Tsuyuzaki, chief technology officer for Panasonic North America, at a press event on Thursday. "This time it's for real."
Television manufacturers have been touting the arrival of home 3D for some time now, but they had to wait for two important technical events, Tsuyuzaki said. The first was the standardization of HDMI, or the cables that connect high-definition devices such as Blu-ray players to HD televisions.
Manufacturers needed to agree on adding a special "pipe" to the cable that was reserved for 3D signals, which they did a few months ago with the HDMI 1.4 standardization.
The second event is the standardization of Blu-ray disc formats, which Tsuyuzaki expects to happen in the next few weeks. That agreement will put all manufacturers on the same page when designing high-definition discs.
Once both of those pieces are in place, manufacturers will be free to start selling. Panasonic is going to aim its 3D-enabled televisions, which work with special glasses, at the mass market and won't charge much of a premium, he said.
Today's 3D is different from previous iterations in that it doesn't pop images out of the screen, but rather adds depth that seemingly goes into the picture. "It's not in your face," Tsuyuzaki said. "It's more like actually being there."
The content side is also ramping up with entertainment companies producing a slew of 3D movies for theatres. Hollywood has pumped out a host of hugely successful 3D animated films this year, including Up and Coraline. Oscar-winning director James Cameron is making his return to films in December, with his 3D science-fiction film Avatar.
Most major electronics manufacturers are betting on 3D as the next big thing. Sony on Thursday said it expects sales of more than $11 billion in 3D products by 2013, with PlayStation consoles getting an upgrade to play three-dimensional video games.
"We see 3D as a pillar of our strategy," said Hiroshi Yoshioka, a senior Sony executive. "We are all getting geared up on this theme."