Ina Fried

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Can a Better Screen Finally Produce a 3-D Tablet Worth Buying?

Though reasonably popular in the movies, electronics makers are still struggling to convince the masses that 3-D technology is worth using in the real world.

The technology has been built into everything from cellphones to TVs and laptops, but remains largely a niche in each category.

MasterImage 3D, a company that already does 3-D technology for the cinema, is turning its attention to tablets.

As is the case with a number of other 3-D phones on the market, MasterImage can create 3-D displays that don’t require special glasses. Its technology puts a special layer over traditional screens to create a second image, and then switches rapidly between the images to be seen by the left and right eyes.

The result is an impressive image that can be used to create the illusion of bubbles or confetti that appear to shoot out several inches from the screen. It’s equally adept at displaying 3-D Hollywood movies or playing adapted 3-D versions of existing games.

Unlike rival technologies that alternate line by line, MasterImage alternates smaller groups of images, a feat that the company says allows it to produce brighter images and allow 3-D to be shown regardless of which way the device is held.

Of course, the big challenge remains convincing consumers that they even want 3-D technology in the first place.

“A lot of people, their exposure to 3-D has been minimal,” said VP Matt Liszt. “It’s not a day in, day out experience and that’s what this can change.”

Another issue is that the amount of content for such devices is growing, but still relatively small.

MasterImage, which is based in Hollywood and has offices in Korea, has been talking with anyone who will listen — game makers, book publishers and studios.

“We’re not naïve,” Liszt said.

MasterImage hasn’t announced any deals with tablet makers, but says it has held advanced talks with a number of manufacturers, and hopes tablets using its technology will be on the market by early next year. For now, it is showing off a Qualcomm reference design that includes its display technology.

Updated, 11:45 a.m. PT, to note that the company has offices in Korea, but is based in Hollywood, as well as to say that the company has not announced any deals with tablet makers, but hasn’t said if it has signed any pacts.


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There’s a lot of attention and PR around Marissa, but their product lineup just kind of blows.

— Om Malik on Bloomberg TV, talking about Yahoo, the September issue of Vogue Magazine, and our overdependence on Google