Networking in the Third Dimension

The Industry now shares a Location in the Form of the Berlin 3D Innovation Center

HHI-Institutsleiter Dr. Hans-Joachim Grallert, Dr. Philipp Rösler, Dr. Ralf Schäfer (v.l.) © Jana Denzler Photography

As Dr. Philipp Rösler, German Minister of Economics, presses a red button, it is now Year 3 Anno Avatar. The button looks just like the one that Willy Brandt pressed 45 years ago as television entered the age of color. Having the Minister push this button also has its effect: adding the third dimension to a former two-dimensional world, on time at the opening oft the 3D Innovation Center by invitation of the Fraunhofer Heinrich-Hertz-Institut (HHI).

“We were only a network for a long time. Now, we are also a location”, says Kathleen Schröter, Executive Manager of the 3D Innovation Center, as she glances at the wall, where the signs of the joint venture partners have been mounted. The signs include important people from the industry as well as research institutes, technical universities, broadcasters and telecommunications companies, from Dolby, Loewe and Zeiss to the Technische Universität of Berlin, Deutsche Telekom and Sky. so far they have been working isolated from each other. Now, they are visibly networking in order to push forward the 3D industry together. In Germany, the 3D Innovation Center is unique for its kind, but even in an international context, this platform is something special.

While the 3D market is booming in China (the Chinese government even included the idea into their five-year plan), the three-dimensional market has not truly arrived in the German living room. “Three-dimensional production expenses are still quite high at the moment”, says Dr. Ralf Schäfer, Chairman of the Steering Committee for the 3D Innovation Center and Manager of the Image Processing Department at HHI. He is convinced that the breakthrough will first come with autostereoscopy, meaning once 3D televisions that do not require 3D glasses are ready for the market.

For that reason two of the new platform’s workgroups are working on autostereoscopy and financially efficient stereo viewing production for that reason. Other companies are working in fields such as providing industrial and medical applications, archival applications, quality assurance or marketing in three dimensions. “We are offering a multi-level partnership program with Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum levels”, says Kathleen Schröter. “Thereby, the joint venture partners are able to determine their investment according to their objectives, and how much they are willing to pay annually.”

The interests of the partners are quite different. Where some partners want to conduct joint research projects focusing predominantly on the networking of smaller companies (SME) with the larger ones in the industry, others partners want to test their developments using the lounge-like presentation areas in the Center as well as its live 3D studio, theater with editing room and 3D laboratory.

As an engineer, Dr. Schäfer has been working on the issue of three-dimensionality since the Eighties. The many years of research have paid off. A suggestion from HHI has just been accepted for the development of a standard for encoding video, which will make cost-efficient transmission of 3D TV possible without the need for glasses. For their work, HHI was presented with the Best Paper Award at Europe’s largest broadcast conference, IBC.

The popcorn machines that were temporarily constructed for the opening of the 3D Innovation Center have become part of the Center’s fixed inventory. In the technology room, the electricians completed the final adjustments. The work has now been started and the first workgroup meeting has been completed. “New partners will always be welcome”, says Ralf Schäfer. “There are still a couple of free spaces on the wall. If necessary, we can simply make the signs smaller or display the partner’s logos on a screen. In 3D, of course.”

Susanne Hörr
Kluge Köpfe 2012