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Old 03-31-2009, 04:26 PM   #2  
Lee Stewart
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Panasonic has hopes for 3D movie home gadgets

March 31, 2009

TOKYO—Panasonic Corp. officials expressed hopes Tuesday that technology for three-dimensional images will allow it to charge more for gadgets that have been plunging in prices.

The technology is growing in popularity at movie theaters. The Japanese electronics maker hopes to bring the technology into homes globally with 3-D Blu-ray players and 3-D high-definition TVs by 2010. Rivals Samsung Electronics Co. and Sony Corp. are also working on similar technology.

Three-dimensional video works by sending different images to the left eye and the right eye to create an illusion of depth. As with much of today's 3-D technology, Panasonic's 3-D TV requires the viewer to wear special glasses that rapidly shutter one eye's view, and then the other, synchronized with the image.

In a demonstration, Osaka-based Panasonic showed on a 103-inch plasma TV dazzling footage of the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony, in which rows of colorfully costumed dancers seemed to almost pop out from the screen.

The global slowdown has battered Japan's electronics makers, including Panasonic, which is expecting its first annual loss in six years.

Keisuke Suetsugi, a Panasonic manager, said gadget prices are falling rapidly, but 3-D features will help add value to products. Image quality has improved from previous 3-D technology, and Hollywood studios are sold on 3-D films, he said.

A host of 3-D movies are scheduled for theatrical release this year, including DreamWorks Animation comedy "Monsters vs. Aliens," which opened recently and pulled in well over half of its $59.3 million opening weekend grosses from 3-D screens.

Of some 36,000 theater screens in North America, about 2,000 are 3-D, according to Panasonic.

"Consumer reaction is good for this new technology," said Panasonic general manager Masayuki Kozuka.
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