In this chapter, the expectations of future research activities and their outcomes are discussed. While the general climate in which research activities in 3D media take place should be investigated and taken into consideration when making such predictions, such a broad overview is beyond the intentions of this book. As researcher interest in 3D technologies is rising, so too is public interest in 3D cinema and TV. Creation, end-to-end delivery, and display of 3D content are three major challenges. There seems to be a consensus that the 3D media will be the next endall application, and delivery of 3D video over the Internet to stationary and mobile environments will be a hot topic. Underlying technologies are diverse; a range of technologies from low-end (stereoscopy) to high-end, ultra-realistic displays (holography) promise an array of different quality commercial products over time. While European companies and researchers have a strong basis in 3D-related areas, competition is strong with interest from research centers and companies all over the world (especially from the United States, Japan, and Korea).
Although 3D technologies have been around in some form for the past 170 years, extensive research momentum in its sophisticated forms, especially with true 3D video in mind, has not yet reached a significant level. Current research activities are instead concentrated on multiview 3D video systems; multiview video is an extension of stereoscopy with many views instead of two, and provides a performance between classical two-view stereoscopy and true 3D imaging modalities. Another research topic with current momentum is eyewear-free visualization of stereoscopic and multiview video. Based on these observations, research activities can be divided into three categories in terms of the timing of expected major results. The categorization is presented as near-, medium-, and long-term research activities.