Images by B. Alter
This TreeHugger was invited to visit Sony's Technology Center in Stuttgart, Germany to hear about ecological and environmental initiatives in the company. We saw the new VAIO W eco model laptop, visited the lab's and saw how they do materials compliance testing, and emissions testing and witnessed the future technology of solar cells.
Most exciting of all, we watched ourselves on the Bravia 3D TV. Available in June, it will become the must-have item for all sports and gaming fanatics. Yes, you do have to wear glasses, but they are not that heavy and one gets used to them very quickly. The thrill of seeing real people doing real things in 3D is fantastic.
3D without the glasses: ouch!
Samsung and Panasonic have also announced their own 3D TV's. Sony's is coming out in June. There is great competition to develop the technology quickly. Sony staff acknowledge that all the companies are working at becoming more environmentally aware. A recent study, issued by Sony, found that 39% of all Americans and 35% of all Europeans are planning to spend more on green products next year so there is a big incentive. What are the differences amongst them: having talked to Sony, we can report on some of their efforts.
What's New and Different About Sony's TV?
1. Everyone is Curious about the Glasses
The glasses are the big mystery and fascination for consumers. And the answer is you have to use them, at least for the next 5 years. Sony expects that they will develop 3D TV without the need for glasses in the next 5 to 10 years and it will be very expensive.
With regular 2D TV there is one view: both eyes see the same image. With 3D there are 2 views; one for each eye. The old 3D glasses had one red and one blue lens. Sony's active shutter glasses receive separate left and right images that are synchronized with the screen image.
Images from Sony
2. The Presence Sensor is Unique to Sony
Sony says that they are the only ones that have a presence sensor. It senses the viewer's presence and turns the TV picture off to save energy. It combines motion detection, when watching the TV directly, and face detection, when reading or sleeping and it can do this from within a 6 metre range.
The sensor settings determine what aspect of the TV will be turned on or off. The strong mode turns off the picture (sound is still on) when it doesn't detect the face. The moderate mode dims the picture after the sensor does not detect a face. After a while, it then shuts down when the sensor does not detect any motion. The mild mode turns the picture off at a preset time during which the sensor does not detect either face or motion.
This is a real energy saver for people who leave the TV on all the time. It's also great for those (men) who fall asleep while watching the football in the afternoon. However it could be quite annoying if you leave the room to turn on the kettle, answer the door bell, etc. etc.
3. The Energy Saving Switch Saves Power
Putting the TV on standby still consumes energy; Sony reckons that it uses up 0.19W. Nobody knows for sure, but reports say that standby eats up 5 to 10% of residential electricity use in developed countries. The energy saving switch cuts the power off to almost zero energy
4. Packing Details are Eco
As in the VAIO W laptop, Sony has put a lot of thought into reducing the packaging and making it greener. A good 75% of the packing is made of recycled cardboard. By reducing the box volume they can ship more per truck and save on gas and carbon emissions. In 2008 they packed 288 TV's on a truck, in 2010 they get 576 on.
Recycling of old TV's is comprehensive. As part of the EU take-back programme, the screens are crushed and sold as home insulation. LCD Panel packaging is compressed and returned to the factory. The circuit boards are resold, after the copper has been removed.
5. What's To Watch?
Of course the other big question is: what are you going to watch, once you have bought this baby. For those lucky sports fans in the UK, Sky has just announced that they are launching their Sky 3D TV channel on April 3, the first in Europe. And guess what the first show will be: football! Sky has already been testing out the 3D TV's on wide screens in pubs and the response has been overwhelming, with 1,000 pubs signed up and fans breaking down the doors to get in.