Volfoni ActivEyes Hybrid 3D Glasses

Yesterday, I ran into David Reisner, digital-cinema consultant and recent guest on my Home Theater Geeks podcast, who told me about an exhibitor called Volfoni, which is showing hybrid active/passive universal 3D glasses at NAB. Intrigued, I sought them out.

The glasses are separated from the electronics and sync sensor that are housed in a small matchbox-sized receiver that clips on your clothes and connects to the glasses with a slim cable. This makes the glasses much lighter than other active-shutter glasses and allows many other functions, as I'll describe shortly. The IR sensor recognizes the IR sync signal from all makes of 3DTVs except Samsung, which uses a different IR wavelength than the others. Not only that, the lenses are circularly polarized, allowing them to be used with passive 3D sets from LG and Vizio as well as RealD commercial presentations without turning on the receiver.

If the IR signal is lost, the glasses "freewheel" for 30 seconds, then shut off, which they did several times as I was trying them in the booth with a Panasonic 3D plasma (active) and LG 3D LCD (passive). To avoid this problem, a small optional device can be used to convert the display's IR sync signal to RF, which the receiver uses to sync the glasses while hidden in a pocket—no line of sight required. It can also convert DLP Link synchronization from 3D DLP projectors and Mitsubishi RPTVs to RF. The dongle includes a micro USB port to recharge the battery and update the firmware.

Another interesting feature is Sunglasses mode, which darkens the lenses at four different levels; the lightest level also color-corrects passive 3D images. However, the current version of the product can implement only two of the three functions—IR, RF, Sunglasses—which you must choose when you buy them.

The expected price is about $100, $60 of which is the receiver. If you break the glasses, you can replace them for $40 without having to replace the electronics. Not only that, up to four pairs of glasses can be daisy-chained to one receiver, cutting the cost even farther.

This is a very interesting idea, but I have to say that having a separate receiver connected to the glasses with a cable seems rather clunky. We'll see if it flies in the marketplace.