3D TV to bring World Cup to life

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For anyone unable to make it to South Africa next summer for the spectacular sights and sounds of the FIFA World Cup, Sony Corp. has a solution that is almost as good as being at the games.

The Japanese electronics giant has signed a deal with football's (soccer's) international governing body to record as many as 25 matches in 3D, giving viewers a more realistic view of the match by providing the image of depth on the screen.

Sony is one of several television makers along with Panasonic and Toshiba working on commercializing the technology and already has 3D video cameras. 3D television sets for home use are to be released in Japan early in the new year.

"The transition to 3D is underway, and, we, at Sony, intend to be leaders in every aspect," Sir Howard Stringer, chairman, CEO and president of the company, said at the announcement of the agreement in South Africa earlier in December.

"Our sponsorship of the FIFA World Cup allows us to leverage our cutting-edge 3D technology and premier products with dazzling content to produce a unique and totally compelling viewing experience," he added.

"3D viewers around the world will feel as though they are inside the stadiums in South Africa, watching the games in person."

Viewers will wear special glasses to get the most out of 3D video footage, because the illusion of depth is created by sending different images to the left and right eyes, although makers are working on improved versions that will do away with the need for glasses.

There is a growing market for 3D programming, although to date it has mainly been for animated films. That is spreading, however, and the new science-fiction epic Avatar is available in 3D.

The technology is already available in Sony's Bravia LCD televisions, Blu-ray Disc recorders, Vaio computers and PlayStation3 consoles.

Sony plans to distribute the official 3D film of the tournament on Blu-ray Disc as well as showing games at booths set up at FIFA events in Berlin, London, Mexico City, Paris, Rio de Janeiro, Rome and Sydney in June and July. Highlights of the games will also be shown at Sony showrooms around the world.