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What Is a Plasma 3D TV?

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  • Written By: Ray Hawk
  • Edited By: E. E. Hubbard
  • Last Modified Date: 05 November 2016
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    Conjecture Corporation
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A plasma three dimensional (3D) television (TV) is a type of television that displays visual images in a form that gives them a look of artificial depth, unlike a standard television picture which only has two dimensional (2D) height and width to the display. They do this by relying on the stereoscopic effect of human vision, which requires the brain to process images received by both separate eyes at slightly different angles, and combine them into one image. The technology is only available for a plasma 3D TV on the latest 3D TVs for sale as of 2011, because the TV has to present two separate copies of images at one time on top of each other on the television screen, which ordinary TVs cannot do.

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Plasma TVs themselves have been around for a long time, since they were first created in 1964, but they have only been improved upon in recent years to make them commercially viable products. A plasma television works by electrically charging many small pockets of ionized xenon and neon gases encased within flat layers of glass. As the gasses are affected by electrical signals and chemical interactions, they emit colors that react with a phosphor screen that lights up to enhance the effect. Each cell of gas is referred to as a pixel, and can display either a red, blue, or green light. Together mixtures of thousands of these pixel displays are used to make up television images. The advantages of plasma screens over the older technology of televisions is that they allow the entire TV to be no more than 6 inches (15.24 centimeters) thick for a lighter weight and easier display in homes, and the picture is sharper and more vivid than older models.

Combining the plasma television with a 3D display method has led to a large demand for the new technology. The motivation behind building plasma 3D televisions was the desire to take the 3D effect offered in some movie theaters and bring it into the home. As more and more viewing of movies is done on digital video disc (DVD) and Blu-ray discs® in home theaters with large screen, high quality televisions, the market trend has fueled building better display systems to meet this home demand.

Early forms of plasma 3D TV equipment used what is called frame sequential technology. This requires a viewer to wear special glasses which rapidly open and close viewing shutters alternately for each eye, at a rate of 60 viewing images or frames per second. The advanced image processing capability of the plasma 3D TV allowed the display on the screen to simultaneously alternate copies of the image at a rate of 120 frames per second. This fast rate of image change is perceived by both human eyes as one multi-layered image in a consolidating process known as fusing. An illusion of depth is added to the image as each frame is presented at a slightly different angle to the viewer and rapidly layered atop other images.

The glasses for a plasma 3D TV that uses frame sequential processing have complex liquid crystal displays, built-in electronics and batteries, and are expensive. New technology as of 2011 is getting around this limitation by using a technique known as a Film Pattern Retarder. This allows passive polarized glasses to be worn which cost much less and don’t require batteries or electronic processing controls. A Film Pattern Retarder plasma 3D TV, however, is even more specialized than earlier models. Each TV screen has a special polarizing film on the surface that allows each eye in a viewer wearing the glasses to see only alternating horizontal lines of the image, which the brain translates into a three-dimensional form.

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