3-D monitors display potential

Depth: It's the great untapped dimension that monitor technology has been missing. Now an emerging New Zealand-based company has its eyes set on becoming to monitors what "Dolby" is to sound technology.

Deep Video Imaging Ltd. is currently setting up its U.S. operations in the Bay Area as the owner of licenses and patents to 3-D monitor technology. By combining the images generated by two overlayed flat-screen panels, its monitors can create 3-D images using systems with any of the high-performance video cards available today.

Recently on display at IDG's Demo conference, Deep Video Imaging is pursuing a licencing model with monitor and imaging OEMs across the product spectrum.

The company is already selling 15-inch development units built by LG/Philips LCD, and is currently pursuing agreements with a number of U.S. and Asian manufacturers. Commercially available units are expected to be available in the first quarter of next year.

Target market segments include aviation, military, medicine, automotive, graphic design, and gaming, but company representatives claim the technology can also be tailored for watches and handheld devices.

Company co-founder and executive vice president Gabriel Engel said the technology could potentially scale to combine more than two panels, but the cost of manufacturing made that a difficult business case.

"Technically, it's very tricky to combine the layers. A unique optical stack allows this to happen," he said.

Company officials claim the addition of 3-D, or depth technology, has the ability to dramatically boost the monitor market, already showing the signs of maturity.

The flat-panel market is currently worth US$28 billion, and is expected to reach $65 billion by 2005. "We have the capability to double the market," said David Hancock, Deep Video Imaging's president and CEO.

During a demonstration with InfoWorld, the company was reticent to give detailed pricing information about the forthcoming units its OEMs will build. Hancock expects, however, that the cost of manufacturing one monitor will be 1.7 times that of a flat-panel display, with prices falling over time and with volume discounts.

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Mark Jones

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