Are you Ready for 3D TV?

Quite honestly, I’m not excited by this technology yet.  I’ve experienced prototypes of 3D displays at CES.  Most of them required special glasses, although one manufacturer had actually managed to make a multi-planed monitor that produced “3D” without glasses (these displays were targeted for casino gaming).  The multi-planed display was quite trippy, yet mesmerizing — perfect for video slots and video poker.  For the most part, though, like 3D movies, it was very taxing on my eyes to view the displays through the special polarized glasses.

Eye strain aside, the basic question that comes to mind is does 3-D enhance my viewing experience?  I’ve seen a few movies in 3D and, basically, the movie makers, being conscious of 3D, add sight gags to titillate viewers.  However, I have yet to see any of these sight gags enhance or even have relevance to the movie’s storyline.  Along these lines, when considering whether to pay extra to see a movie in 3-D, I skip it, and opt to see the movie on the largest screen with digital projection.  I prefer a clear, vivid image over 3-D any day.   Oh, and let me not forget that I can see the refresh in 3-D movies, which actually makes me feel a little queasy on top of the eye strain (if the refresh rate hits a certain sweet spot, I have been known to pass-out).  The same was true for me when experiencing 3-D TV — Eyestrain, disorientation, and queasiness.

Leaving aside the minor medical problems caused by 3-D, let’s go back to the question of content enhancement.  Of course when 3-D becomes available, shows will feel compelled to include the usual pointy-sticks-in-the-eye site gags and long with cute-fuzzy-flying-creatures for your children to pointlessly reach out and try to pet.  Beyond this, though, what will 3-D bring to TV entertainment seeing as how it’s brought nothing material to movies?  As a demonstration of 3-D LCD TV technology, I viewed a video of a football game video game.  The field and the players were so small that it really didn’t matter that it was in 3-D.  Extrapolating that to real sports, I just don’t see an advantage — unless, say, I’m courtside and the image is so big that I’m immersed in the world.  Hahaha!!! I imagine that kind of reality is some years away, but I could really see myself enjoying that kind of experience.  I also experienced a video game demo, which was interesting …

Moving on to the “interesting” thing … The thing about 3-D is that the display outputs two images.  The images come out the display via orthogonal light waves, which are visible though lenses that allow one or the other kind of light wave to pass (basically each lens in a pair of 3D glasses picks up one of the images).  Now imagine instead of 3-D, two completely different images are shown and each viewer has a pair of glasses in which both lenses are the same so only one image is viewable to each person.  Suddenly, two people can be looking at the same display, but each person sees a completely different image!  In video gaming this comes in handy for two player vs and cooperative games because each person can see from their own perspective without having to split the screen.  Taking the concept further, pair this with headsets or directional speakers, and suddenly two people watching the same television can be watching two different programs!  This is the thing that excites me and once the technological issues are works out such that people can tolerate 3-D for longer than 10-mins, I could see myself indulging in a 3-D TV.

Here’s a link to an article talking about the near future of 3D TV.  3D TV has a long way to go, and I doubt until TV becomes a fully immersive experience that 3D will catch on universally.  But I think the steps that are being taken now are the brave first steps that move us towards that virtual courtside seat at home.

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