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Function, cosmetic enhancements drive 3D & video glasses line

Suppliers are taking advantage of the widening adoption of 3D format and the portability trend.

Upbeat demand projections buoyed by growth in application markets are encouraging makers of 3D and video glasses in mainland China to add value to their selections. Many are emphasizing both functions and external designs. Suppliers of 3D types are looking to achieve better effects and attractive frames. Those specializing in video glasses are targeting HD variants in sturdy but lightweight form factors.

3D glasses

The model K44-935KB LCoS video glasses from Komfor feature 3D function and support an 80in virtual screen.

Manufacturers of 3D units such as Shenzhen Kingkai-tat Optics Industry Co. Ltd use lens sourced from overseas providers to ensure overall quality. The enterprise’s S10CP model is a circular polarized kind with 0.22 to 0.275mm thickness, more than 99.9 percent efficiency and over 42 percent single transmittance. It can endure temperatures as high as 110 C and as low as -22 C.

In the video glasses category, suppliers are highlighting multifunctionality while aiming for HD resolution. Shenzhen Live Digital Technology Co. Ltd’s LV-VA05-A model boasts 1080p and 3D capability. To realize this, the maker has incorporated a driver board and loaded programs into the LCoS chip and optical engines. It sources the last from Taiwan’s Himax and the decoding chip from Chiprise. Shenzhen Live also adopts the UV process to ensure abrasion-resistant lenses and nylon material for a lightweight frame.

Besides product improvements, suppliers are increasing their output and exports in anticipation of higher demand. They expect overseas shipments to climb by at least 5 percent in the months ahead. The main markets abroad are Europe and North America, which have a combined share exceeding 60 percent of many companies’ yield. Shenzhen Kingkai-tat and Shenzhen Live allocate 75 percent and about 70 of their respective outbound 3D and video glasses for both regions.

Other deliveries, consisting mainly of entry-level and midrange models, are sent to Southeast Asia, South America and the Middle East. Local makers consider these areas emerging markets with a potential for further growth.

The rising popularity of 3D products is also widening the selection and spurring manufacturing expansion. Global shipments of enabled front projectors will reach nearly 5.4 million units by 2014 from about 1 million last year, based on estimates by Pacific Media. Those of 3D TVs will soar by 463 percent YoY and hit 23.4 million units by end-2011 and climb to 159.2 million units by 2015, according to IHS iSuppli. Demand for video glasses will also increase but not on the same level, being still a niche with a predominantly young market.

3D glasses

Shenzhen Kingkai-tat’s model P4 3D anaglyph glasses have 0.2mm PET color filter lenses and an imported cardboard frame.

3D glasses

Anaglyph, polarized, active-shutter and chromadepth types constitute the 3D glasses line in China. The first three form the bulk of output with an aggregate 95 percent share, but it is anaglyph and polarized units that are in mainstream supply.

Positioned in the entry level, anaglyph variants achieve the 3D effect through complementary colored lenses, which are generally red on one side and green or cyan on the other. Because of this combination, the kind has a limited range of hues. It is usually marketed as a promotional product for use in movies, games, pictures, books and magazines.

In the midrange and currently the popular type are polarized glasses, which suit movies and TVs. These are further categorized into linear and circular models. The latter allow comparatively freer movement of the user’s head and a wider viewing angle. For this reason, makers foresee circular versions will dominate their class in the future.

Active-shutter units belong to the high end and find application in TVs and projectors. They require batteries for the lenses, which utilize LCD panels and open and shut alternately. Such action, combined with a sync signal through an IR remote control, creates the 3D effect. Companies are predicting other wireless technologies such as Bluetooth and ZigBee will be tapped for later releases. The active-shutter category is expected to increase its share of domestic supply with a further cost decline.

At present, midrange models make up 50 percent of enterprises’ production, entry-level 30 percent and high-end the rest. At Richforth Electronics Co., the first consisting of polarized varieties account for 70 to 80 percent of yield. The manufacturer’s selection includes circular subtypes such as the RF29380 model.

Anaglyph glasses have PET and PC lenses, with the latter material also used in the frame. Cardboard, ABS, acrylic and acetate are the other options for the frame.

Polarized and chromadepth units differ with additional choices of triacetate cellulose or TAC lens and memory metal frames. Active-shutter versions boast a TN or FSTN high-response LCD lens, and employ the same materials as the first two, including AlMg and stainless steel for the frame. These have a USB port and run on a rechargeable lithium battery. Cardboard is not common in all three types, although Shenzhen Kingkai-tat’s P4 CD chromadepth model adopts the material, which it sources overseas.

Video glasses

China’s selection of video glasses is categorized by technology, which covers LCoS, OLED and LCD. The first accounts for 80 percent of supply. In terms of added function, there are three types, namely game, camera and 3D variants. Trends for high resolution and multifunctionality are moving the line increasingly toward the midrange and high-end segments. Currently, entry-level units make up 70 percent of production. Mostly based on LCoS, these have QVGA resolution and maximum 50in virtual display. The units support various audio and video files, including 3D movies, video games and e-books.

Midrange and high-end models collectively represent 30 percent of output. These are available in LCoS, OLED and LCD options with VGA and greater resolution, and up to 80in virtual displays. The 2.4GHz wireless variants can handle 720p and 1080i/p playback of 3D movies and video games. They integrate camera, mobile digital TV, voice and video recording, and e-book functions. All products have a USB port, TV- and A/V-out, and an SD/MMC slot, enabling expanded connectivity with media players, game consoles and mobile phones.

The K-VG270 model from Shanghai Kingstronic Co. Ltd comes with 32-bit games and a 2MP camera, and is capable of audio recording. It delivers QVGA resolution and a 40in virtual display. Komfor Electronics Co. Ltd’s K44-935KB model features 3D function. It has a VGA resolution and 80in virtual display.

Prices, materials & components

The majority of interviewed suppliers expect stable prices in coming months. The reasons vary, with some attributing the forecast to steady chip costs. For others, the last increase implemented due to rising material and labor outlay and the appreciation of the yuan is enough. They think a further upward adjustment will weaken competitiveness.

Makers of 3D glasses turn to local providers for frame materials, while lens inputs also come from outside the mainland. For TN and FSTN LCD panels, Taiwan partners are their other sources. Video glasses manufacturers obtain LCoS chips from Taiwan and the US, and optical engines mainly from Himax.

Supply of components remains stable, but enterprises are not discounting fluctuating levels for LCoS ICs as portable projectors based on them are becoming popular. To ensure their inventories, some have undertaken production of the component in-house. Shenzhen Live, for instance, is preparing to enter trial and mass manufacture in 3Q11.

3D glasses

ST&T's model H3D8510 polarized 3D video glasses have a ZigBee RF receiver.

Taiwan: Active-shutter 3D video glasses rising

Polarized types dominate the supply of 3D video glasses in Taiwan. Makers also yield anaglyph and active-shutter variants. The last is catching up, especially as more 3D TVs supporting up to 480Hz enable a smoother video and visual quality for the variant.

Nvidia is among the major chipset companies supporting active-shutter technology. The category is based mostly on IR technology, with RF an emerging alternative. The latter boasts a longer transmission distance and less interference with other IR-enabled devices. It comes in Bluetooth and ZigBee options.

ST&T Electric Corp. adopts the last in its RF models. The products come with an emitter to work as a universal RF repeater and turn multiple signals into RF. These support most TV brands, including Sony, Vizio and Samsung. The company is also considering Bluetooth for its upcoming releases.

At present, active-shutter kinds are in the high end, listing between $20 and $30. Entry-level anaglyph units are priced below $0.50, and polarized versions, which are also called passive 3D glasses, go for $0.50 to $5, depending on the glass thickness and frames. There are pure-plastic models and others with a special coating, which may affect quotes. Paper-based variants are below $0.50, and those in the mainstream with plastic frames about $2.

3D glasses

Product gallery

BenQ Corp.

Model: 3D Glasses
Description: 3D video type; 1,000:1 typical contrast ratio; 1.7ms response time; 50-degree typical L/R viewing angle; 8m viewing distance; DLP Link technology; 4mW power consumption; two CR2032 batteries; 45.9x168.8x165.2mm

3D glasses

Richforth Electronics Co.
(mainland China)

Model: RF29300
MOQ: 20,000 units
Delivery: 10 to 15 days
Description: Anaglyph 3D type; ivory cardboard frame; 405x37mm; custom logos, designs, printing available

3D glasses

Shanghai Kingstronic Co. Ltd
(mainland China)

Model: K-VG270
Description: Video type with 32-bit NES, SMD and GBA games, 2MP camera; LCoS; QVGA or 320x240 pixels, 40in virtual display, 2m viewing distance; 60hr audio recording; MPEG-2, AVI, RMVB, WMV, VOB, 3GP, TXT; 2GB flash memory; SD card slot, up to 8GB supported; A/V-in, out

3D glasses

Shenzhen Live Digital Technology Co. Ltd
(mainland China)

Model: LV-VA05-A
Description: 3D video type; LCoS; 640x480 pixels, 1080p, 80in virtual display, 2m viewing distance; 60Hz progressive scan refresh rate, 35-degree field of view; Windows 2000, XP, Vista, 7 OS; built-in 4GB flash memory; SD card slot, up to 32GB supported; 100 to 240V power input; built-in rechargeable Li-ion battery, 3hr operating time

Note: This article "Function, cosmetic enhancements drive 3D & video glasses line" was originally published by Global Sources, a leading business-to-business media company and a primary facilitator of trade with China manufacturers and India suppliers, providing essential sourcing information to volume buyers through our e-magazines, trade shows and industry research.

All price quotes in this report are in US dollars unless otherwise specified. FOB prices were provided by the companies interviewed only as reference prices at the time of interview and may have changed.

Disclaimer: All product images are provided by the companies interviewed and are for reference purposes only. Those product images featuring products with trademarks, brand names or logos are not intended for sale. We, our affiliates, and our affiliates' respective directors, officers, employees, representatives, agents or contractors, do not accept and will not have any responsibility or liability for product images (or any part thereof) which infringe on any intellectual property or other rights of a third party.

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