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Bringing Dreams to Technological Reality:
The Evolution of Television

Looking back at the history of television technology in Japan, we can see that its development was the result of the tireless efforts of many research engineers, some famous and some unknown. These engineers developed on Japan's pioneer TV researcher Kenjiro Takayanagi's quest for "wireless distance vision". Their passion for making dreams into reality will lead us to new frontiers of television.

1994 -Exploring the Future of Broadcasting

The Evolution of Television

The 20th century has often been called the "century of the moving image". The 21st century will be a new era, thanks to the integration of broadcasting, communications, and digital technology. Media will continue to advance, extending far beyond the 3-screens paradigm. New technologies such as Super Hi-Vision, flexible displays, and wall displays will also appear in the near future.

The dream of 3D television: From fiction to reality

Three-dimensional images have always captured human interest. In 1953, the year that television broadcasting began, Kenjiro Takayanagi contributed a short article titled "Regarding 3D Movies" to a journal, speculating that such technology would be needed by television engineers in the future.

Research on 3D images is quite old, and most of the methods used today were conceived in the first half of the twentieth century. Holography, perhaps the ultimate form of 3D media, was invented in 1948. Many attempts have been made to apply these methods to television, but none have progressed beyond the basic research stages.

STRL has been conducting research in 3D imaging for a long time, through its research on visual perception. The latter half of the 1980s saw much research on 3D vision and displays that would not require glasses. One result of this effort was the first-ever exhibition of 3D Hi-Vision, which applies binocular 3D techniques to Hi-Vision, at the STRL Open House in 1989. There are significant synergistic effects when 3D is added to high-definition video, and this technology received a strong reaction when exhibited at the NAB show. STRL has also conducted research on time-division multiplexed display on PDPs, cameras, and shooting techniques, as well as experimental 3D television programs.

Integral 3D Television

In 1994, STRL began R&D on a more natural type of 3D television that does not require special glasses. This "integral 3D television" uses lens arrays with a large number of small lenses, each the equivalent of one pixel in 2D, for shooting and displaying images. The system can reproduce the light waves emitted from the original physical object (spatial reproduction in 3D). It forms an image of the object similar to one produced by holography.

Both integral 3D TV and holography require a huge amount of information compared to conventional 2D images. They require imaging devices with resolutions exceeding even that of Super Hi-Vision and new approaches for producing programs that make use of the characteristics of 3D.

Senses of the Future

3D Television represents sight and hearing, both very important, but they are only two of the five senses possessed by humans. There are still further possibilities for forms of broadcasting involving other senses such as touch. These require even greater technological leaps than experienced in the evolution from black-and-white, to color, to high-definition television.

Television will continue to develop even after Super Hi-Vision becomes a practical reality.