BBC Blue Room at Internationale Funkausstellung Berlin
LG's Dual Play in action
I'm a Senior Technologist working in the BBC Blue Room. As part of the Technology Division the Blue Room is the corporation's consumer technology demonstration area, where we highlight how the fast paced world of consumer electronics is affecting how BBC content is consumed now and possibly in the future.
An important date in the Blue Room diary is Internationale Funkausstellung Berlin.
IFA is the largest consumer electronics show in Europe, where manufacturers show off their products and services and a chance for us to get a first look at products that might be affecting the BBC now and in years to come.
3D was all the buzz at IFA last year. Would consumers want to wear a pair of specs to watch Nadal at Wimbledon serve a double ace in the third dimension?
A year later and there appears no let up in the manufactures appetite for 3D. As stereoscopic capable TVs are becoming a familiar sight on the high street, it was a no-glasses 3D TV from Toshiba that got the crowds queuing. With headtracking technology the screen is designed to deliver autostereoscopy to up to nine viewers, and will be the first commercially available 3D TV of its kind.
An interesting twist using 3D display technology is LG's Dual Play (see picture above). This allows two gamers to each see their own fullscreen 2D view on the same screen by wearing a special pair of polarised glasses. The key difference being that player one's glasses house two left eye lenses, while the second player's have two right eye lenses. The first screen to come bundled with the special specs will be the LW980T. However, our tests suggest that DIY pairs can be made by swapping the lenses in regular passive pairs and used in conjunction with a polarising 3D TV and a spilt-screen two player game.
There were big launches in the tablet computing category. Sony are one of the last to enter the market with two devices and three screens, their Tablet-S and dual screen Tablet-P grabbed headlines. Of interest to me was how the tablets were being positioned and the functionality being demonstrated. Sony's tablet was dotted all around their large exhibition area, next to the home audio products and in-front of the televisions, not hived off in an area of their own. LG, Philips, Samsung and Panasonic too, were keen to show tablets and smartphones sharing and interoperating with their TVs.
The 'smart' phone has been with us for sometime and it's a name that consumers connect with. The electronics firms recognise this and, as Roland noted at CES earlier in the year, some were starting to call their new internet connected televisions and TV services 'smart'. Eight months on and the term has been adopted across TV brands. However, it appears that the marketing teams want to expand 'smart' beyond TVs and phones to domestic appliances, the connected home and even to communities. We saw use of 'smart iron', 'smart life', 'smart eco' and 'smart town' at the show.
Haier's transparent Organic TV
The giants of the consumer electronics industry invest huge sums on innovation - Samsung's annual spend on research and development exceeds £5 billion.
Haier Electronics, better known for producing white goods, caught much attention by showing off some their latest TV prototypes and technologies. Organic light-emitting diode TVs have been seen before at IFA, but Haier have developed a 22-inch transparent OLED 'Organic TV'.
Also of interest is their mind reading headset that converts human brainwaves into digital signals to control a TV. As an early prototype this technology is still a long away from replacing the traditional infra-red remote. But could it be that tomorrow's television viewers will have to think before they switch channels?
Richard Robbins is Senior Technologist, BBC Blue Room, BBC Technology
BBC Click has a video report: "IFA showcases the latest tablet technology".