TOKYO – Badminton matches look so real playing on Hyundai's new 3-D TV that you may reflexively dodge the virtual shuttlecock. A polar bear pawing the glass of his tank may seem to be inside the TV pushing on the screen.
Hyundai is offering — in Japan only — the first product for watching the 3-D programs that cable stations in Japan now broadcast about four times a day.
There are a few catches:
The 46-inch liquid-crystal display requires 3-D glasses; it's expensive — $3,960, including two pairs of glasses, or about 25 percent more than a comparable regular LCD TV; and the only programs available so far include just a few minutes of video from the northern island of Hokkaido — shots from the zoo, motorcycle-races and other short scenes.
Seen on regular TVs, 3D programs split the screen vertically so the same image appears in both the left and right halves. Conversely, wearing the 3-D glasses while watching regular programming on the Hyundai 3-D TV produces a slight 3-D effect.
The TV uses stereoscopic technology called TriDef from DDD Group Plc in Santa Monica, Calif., which works by sending the same image separately for the left eye and the right eye.
Ryo Saito of BS 11, the cable channel that runs the 3-D shows, says more content is needed for the technology to catch on, and other manufacturers need to start making 3-D televisions.
"People are showing interest in 3-D programs, but most homes don't have the special TVs," he said.
Samsung already sells 3-D rear projection TVs in the U.S., but there are no 3-D TV broadcasts in the United States. The technology is also available on desktop monitors and for video games.
Hyundai IT is hoping to boost its image by gaining a niche audience in Japan, where the TV market is dominated by Sony Corp. and Sharp Corp. The South Korean electronics maker's 3-D TV went on sale in April, but unit sales numbers weren't available.
There is no plan to sell the TV overseas, said senior manager Kim Pyeng-joong.