3D transforms phones and laptops

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After the box-office successes of "Avatar" and "Alice in Wonderland," 3D glasses may become the latest must-have gear for techno-buffs.

Beyond cinema, three-dimensional technology is expected to wend its way into a broad array of consumer electronic products in China, from televisions to computers to mobile phones.

Three-dimensional applications for smaller screens, which often need a higher level of technology and design, are difficult to adapt for commercial use now, but they herald a trend that industry officials aren't game to ignore.

"The 3D display technology is going to expand into consumer electronics sectors," said Jennifer Colegrove, an analyst at DisplaySearch.

The 3D display, which refers to multi-view auto-stereoscope, provides high resolution and vivid imaging.

By 2018, worldwide 3D TV sales are expected to top 10 million units from just 40,000 units in 2009. The 3D laptop sales are forecast to jump from 66,000 to 17.7 million units, while 3D handset sales will surge to 77 million from hardly any at the moment, according to DisplaySearch, a US-based IT consulting firm.

Boosted by the big-budget and successful movie titles, 3D technology has been a revenue boon for Chinese cinemas.

"Chinese cinema operators saw a return on investment in 3D technology come only several months after the release of 'Avatar,'" said Yan Fei, managing director China of Barco, a Belgium-based company that provides projectors for cinemas and big events.

Contrast that with a seven-year estimate globally for that kind of investment.

"It's a China-only miracle, thanks to the willingness of people here to embrace new technology," Yan added.

Of course, 3D is the hottest topic in the TV industry, cited as the most exciting technological development in that industry since the advent of liquid crystal display screens, industry officials said.

Top vendors Samsung and Sony both launched 3D TV models in China market last month, the first of what is expected to stampede into the new realm.

Chinese makers, including AU Optronics, Changhong, TCL and Haier, also have announced plans to launch 3D models within months.

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