Investors are banking on the success of Dynamic Digital Depth’s 3D technology.
By Jon Hindman
Chris Yewdall is no Dionne Warwick. But while he may not disagree with Warwick that What the World Needs Now Is Love, he is changing the lyrics a bit. He thinks what the world needs now is three-dimensional TV.
Yewdall is CEO of Dynamic Digital Depth Inc. in Santa Monica. He strongly believes that 3D TV is the wave of the home entertainment future and is confident that the general public will embrace DDD’s technology. He explains his reasoning simply by comparing 3D TV to the revolution of color TV technology of the early 1950s. We see in color, not black and white, so color TV was the logical successor to TV seen in shades of gray. Well, we not only see in color, we see in 3D, so, according to Yewdall, 3D TV should be the logical successor to color TV.
“It’s a more natural representation of what we’re accustomed to on a daily basis,” he says.
3D without the glasses
When I first heard of DDD’s 3D TV, I saw myself seated in a movie theater watching adamant objects fly over my head in the 1983 flick Spacehunter. All the while wearing those silly cardboard glasses with the blue and red lenses that gave me a headache half way through the movie. And when I took them off to give my eyes a break, Molly Ringwald was a blur.
Kind of an obscure reference, but then again, 3D wasn’t well 20 years ago. Even today, it’s not mainstream. But it’s on its way thanks to companies like DDD, which is pushing the gamut with its 3D technology, so much so, that they’ve eliminated the need to wear those pesky 3D glasses.
This peaked my interest in the company considerably. It has impressed the investment community, as well.
In January DDD announced the close of a $10 million round lead by Merrill Lynch and Schroder Investment Management.
Although the money wasn’t easy to come by, Yewdall admits there were a few factors that convinced investors to back the company. The most significant of these was that DDD built a prototype of the 3D TV before trying to raise capital.
“We didn’t have to sit in front of the investment community and explain anything other than the basic principles of our company and where our strengths lie,” says Yewdall.
And all the investors had to do was sit in front of the screen and “see 3D straight away.”
Yewdall also says that the investment community was attracted to DDD because there was nominal risk – 3D TVs are close to going to market – and because DDD already had made advancements in other areas of 3D hardware and software.
The $10 million round wasn’t DDD’s first crack at the fund-raising process, either. The company received backing from angel and corporate investors to fuel earlier projects.
Past, present, and future
DDD was founded in Australia in 1993 as Xenotech and since has focused on the research and development of 3D software.
In 1998, the company delivered its first 3D screening ” a converted trailer for the IMAX film Everest – astounding crowds at the Large Format Cinema Association meeting in Los Angeles and the Space Theater Consortium meeting in Sydney, Australia.
Yewdall always has been enthralled with 3D technology. It’s what attracted him to DDD, he says. He joined the company late in 1998, and by 1999, he was heading it as CEO. His goal: to further catapult 3D technology into the limelight.
He’s been successful thus far. Under his leadership, the company completed its first commercial sales of 3D hardware for medical applications; launched its free OpticBOOM 3D plug-in for Apple QuickTime, which allows 3D movies to be viewed over the Internet; and early this year, the company went the public route and commenced trading on the UK’s Alternative Investment Market.
Yewdall says trading on AIM gives DDD a greater opportunity to capitalize on international funding and thrive in a more small- business-friendly environment.
“We’d be a drop in the ocean if we’d chosen to go on Nasdaq,” he says.
Now Yewdall hopes to carry DDD into a 3D TV boom.
The company has showcased its 3D TV at a few tradeshows. It was introduced at Motorola’s booth at The Western Show in Los Angeles in November 2000. Then, it made another appearance last November at a Wherehouse Music store in West Hollywood. Although hype surrounding the product is growing, it might not be available to consumers for a few years.
“Reasonably it’s going to be the middle of the decade before we see the ability of the average person to go into Best Buy or Circuit City or The Good Guys and buy a 3D TV,” says Yewdall.
Let’s just hope he can predict the future better than Dionne Warwick’s Psychic Friends Network.