Japan Aims to Produce ‘Virtual Reality’ TVs by 2020

Matt O'Conner
TOKYO — Japan has launched a national project to develop and begin mass producing 3-D TV sets within the next two decades.

Similar to the U.S. space program, the project will be a joint effort between government agencies, technology companies and university researchers.

If all goes according to plan, not only will the final product allow high-definition, three-dimensional, multi-angle images — it may even allow viewers to “touch” and smell what they watch through the added use of ultrasound, electronic stimulation and wind pressure.

"Can you imagine hovering over your TV to watch Japan versus Brazil in the finals of the World Cup as if you are really there?" asked Yoshiaki Takeuchi, director of research and development at Japan's Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, at a press conference to announce the initiative.

While Takeuchi speculates on what the technology means to soccer fans, there’s no doubt adult content providers could benefit from being able to offer fans such a totally immersive experience.

Several companies already are offering 3-D adult entertainment products. Realistixxx.com, for example, offers picture and video conversion services for websites and content providers as well as plug-and-play software that converts DVDs into real-time 3-D on users’ PCs and a set-top boxes that convert live TV and DVDs to 3-D. But no one so far has come close to producing effects that play to all the senses.

Several well-known brands, including Sony and Matsushita Electric Industrial, will take part in the project, which will have an expected budget of about $10 million in 2006.