Wow — the news keeps coming so fast and furious these days that I can’t keep up with it all. So I’m clearing my “Almanac ideas” file in Evernote today as part of my annual spring cleaning. Here is a bunch of short items.
Sony brings back OLED TV: Sony has announced plans to bring out a new, larger OLED TV that will be high definition this time. Expanding on the “green” sales pitch, the new display will not only save power, but will actually create it. OLEDs work by creating light when you apply electricity, but when they are turned off, they can also convert light back into electricity. So you’ll be able to run your electric meter backwards when you’re not watching TV.
Verizon to offer 4K TV: In an attempt to demonstrate just how much bandwidth they have available in their fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) FiOS system, Verizon has stunned the subscription TV market by offering 4K resolution TV in selected markets. The company will offer customers a special deal where they can rent a signal processor made by Extron that will take the 4K signal and split it among the four 1080p HDTVs that are required to show the full detail. It will also provide subscribers with information on how to mod popular 50″ flat panel HDTVs so that they can be used to create a 100″ video wall in any home. Since there is almost no content available in 4K resolution yet, Verizon will upscale existing HD content at their head end, and send the4K signal to the subscribers. In this way, the company’s systems will be ready when 4K content becomes readily available.
Bausch & Lomb get into 3DTV: responding to the demand by consumers for 3DTV experiences without having to resort to Buddy Holly glasses (those would be “Elvis Costello glasses” for you X Genners), Bausch & Lomb has revealed plans to market active contact lenses that will provide the shutter action required to see stereoscopic images on 3DTVs. This will also make it easy for viewers who wear corrective lenses to wear their normal glasses at the same time. (B&L does plan to offer the new contacts with common corrective prescriptions in the near future.) The lenses are designed to work with any 3DTV that is scheduled to ship this year, and uses the NIRDS (Near Infra Red Data Streaming) protocol to provide on-the-fly downloadable firmware upgrades from any 3DTV connected to the Internet in order to handle future models as they are released. The lenses do not use any batteries, but instead use a combination of nano-device kinetic energy harvesting driven by eyeblinks and a chemical battery function using the natural salinity in tears.
Consumer Reports throws in the towel: Given the fact that hundreds of new HDTV models are released every year, Consumer Reports has announced that it will stop trying to review them because there are just too many to keep up with. “The panels are all made by a small handful of factories anyway,” according to a magazine representative, “so on a scale of one to five, they’re really not all that different.” This decision will enable the magazine to focus its remaining resources on washing machines, automobiles, and 12 volt DC blenders.
Sharp bets it all on no-glasses 3DTV: Sharp will be shipping 3DTVs that don’t require glasses starting in June. The LCD displays will have three “sweet spots” and a visual range-finding system of LEDs embedded in the bezel so that you can sit at the precise angle and distance required in order to see the 3D effect. The instruction manual will also have directions for a multi-player version of “rock, paper, scissors” so that you can determine who gets to watch when more than three people want to watch at the same time. The company hopes to have sets with five sweet spots ready by next year.
Homeland Security issues consumer warning: Finally, Homeland Security issued a release today warning all consumers to carefully consider the date on which news is reported, especially about HDTV topics. Apparently, international email intercepts indicate that some foreign groups may attempt to hack into popular HDTV news sites today in order to spread disinformation. You have been warned.