Goggles return as TV and film go 3D

Once 3D entertainment meant fumbling aroundwith a pair of multi-coloured spectacles that made you dizzy, before settling down in the cinema to watch a plotless film that involved a giant plastic shark coming out of the screen to get you.

But not even desperate 1980s cinematic experiences such as Jaws 3-D were enough to kill off our desire to feel part of the action. Now, after almost two decades on the audio-visual scrapheap, 3D is mounting a comeback... straight into your living room.

This summer, owners of a specific model of plasma TV screen will be able to marry it to a PC for the price of a couple of video games and create an instant 3D multi-media centre capable of showing films, games, TV programmes and eventually web pages. The sense of depth promises to be so realistic that viewers will want to reach out and grab the images, say the firms behind the technology.

A whole range of new films are being made as the new wave of 3D cinema allows such realism to be created on much lower budgets than in the past.

And while viewers will, for the next few years at least, have to wear a pair of glasses, the manufacturers promise that these bear little resemblance to the geeky goggles with red and green plastic lenses that fell between the cinema seats all those years ago. A recent demonstration of the product by Samsung in Seoul, revealed the pictures to be sharp, and the company insists that you can watch for hours without getting a headache.

The system is expected to attract hard-core gamers. New titles such as Medal of Honour are already 3D-enabled. But much broader appeal is predicted. Last week, one of Hollywood's biggest studios threw its weight behind the 3D revolution. Disney subsidiary Pixar has announced that all its future films will be in 3D, with the first release, Up, set for July 2009. It follows in the footsteps of Shrek creator DreamWorks, which made a similar decision in 2007.

"I have seen the future of movies, and this is it," Jeffrey Katzenberg, DreamWorks' CEO, said at an industry event last summer. "I couldn't be any more confident or certain about it."

Live-action Hollywood also sees huge commercial potential in 3D. For example, a big-budget family version of Jules Verne's Journey to the Centre of the Earth is set for release in July.

The BBC is also at the 3D cutting edge. It used pairs of special cameras to film Scotland's victory over England in the Calcutta Cup rugby international at Murrayfield earlier this year. 3D images were beamed to a cinema at its Riverside studio in London. The audience reported it was much more like being at the game than watching it on ordinary television.