Is that a laser in your projector?

For the majority, NAB is a large trade show that will begin this Monday. However, the root of the “National Association of Broadcasters” annual convention are the conferences and that started today (on Saturday). Part of the program is called the “Technology Summit on Cinema” organized in collaboration with SMPTE and as you may imagine, it talks a lot about 3D this year.

One of the challenge associated with 3D cinema is the brightness of the picture. Once you put those glasses on, the pictures dim. To compensate that, manufacturers are pushing replacing “xenon short-arc lamps” with “laser illumination systems” that have the potential of not only giving brighter pictures but also cost reductions, energy savings and increased color gamut.

I was already familiar with the technology having seen a demonstration in San Jose a few years ago. However, I did not realized how much the problems at this point have more to do with regulations than with technology. The problem is that there is no distinctions in the regulations between a laser light beam that is sent through the air and laser that is used inside a projector as a light source. The lasers (at least one of each basic colors: red, green and blue) are more accurately compared at a light bulb than at the laser beam that we all love in our laser pointers. The regulations are not making that kind of distinctions and are creating barriers at the wide deployments of the technology (some states requires a yearly license fees, there are regulations over distance from the floor etc),

We had a chance to look at the technology in action and the result is impressive. Let’s hope that the newly formed “Laser Illuminated Projector Association” (LIPA) can successfully lobby the US congress and other regulations authorities so that it is easier to move ahead with that technology, get brighter 3D pictures and reduce global warming in the process!

Outside, the day was a bit of the cooler side with some rain thrown in. The forecasts are much better for the rest of the convention with warm weather and sun… that will make it harder to spend the days inside!

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