How 3D will evolve

How 3D will evolve

Summary: CES 2011 a convinced me that 3D has a 70% chance of becoming mainstream consumer tech. But there's 2 conditions: 3D will be glasses-free; and it will take 10 years, not 3.

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TOPICS: CES
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CES 2011 a convinced me that 3D has a 70% chance of becoming mainstream consumer tech. But there's 2 conditions: 3D will be glasses-free; and it will take 10 years, not 3.

CES in 3D 3D was big at CES. Sony was all in, with 3D from the cool Bloggie HD video camera for $250, to crisp giant rear projection screens using polarized glasses.

Every other major TV maker was also in. Accessories makers were showing 3D glasses, both the more expensive LCD shutter glasses and the simpler and cheaper polarized type - and one had a combo design.

But large screen 3D push has already failed. Sales are dismal. Vendors are realizing that there won't be a quick transition to 3D among consumers - especially during the Great Recession.

Problem Some blame the dorky glasses and put their hope in glasses-free screens. But that isn't the problem.

3DTV is in a chicken and egg situation. Hollywood has a steep learning curve to develop cost-effective production techniques for high quality 3D content. But where is the audience?

On the consumer side, after screening a 3D copy of Avatar a couple of times, where is the 3D content? Back in the 1950s color TV got a major boost when a big network, NBC, gambled on an all color format. But with all the networks today, who has that clout? ESPN maybe, if anxious wives go along.

Future The near-term future of 3D is not in the large screen world. Its mobile. Why?

  1. Small screen glasses-free 3D displays are higher quality than big-screens. I saw a half-dozen different small screens, ranging from an inch and a half to 4 inches, and they all provided a comfortable view.
  2. As mobile devices continue to evolve into general-purpose entertainment and communication systems, thousands of application developers will have an opportunity to experiment and to perfect 3D UI and content. 3D won't be a mass market until it is both fun and useful.
  3. Technology for large screen glasses-free 3D needs to evolve with consumers. Glasses-free is not as immersive: it is like looking into a 3D box rather than the leaps-at-you experience of classes-based 3D.

The large-screen 3D glasses-free screens suffered from irritating visual artifacts. For example, slight head movement would create momentary dark vertical bars.

Enhancements are needed. For example, 3D splits the screen resolution between two eyes, screens need 4K resolution to provide the equivalent of full HD today.

The lenses that split the picture to each eye need refinement too. With a higher resolution display the lenses can become finer and better aimed.

The Storage Bits take Consumer video is one of the fastest growing applications for consumer storage, and 3D could double that. But 3D adoption needs more than a few blockbuster movies.

3D handhelds are the obvious way to go. Content producers get a low-cost platform for experimentation and development. And consumers get a low-cost way to ease into 3D.

Massive 3D adoption will be a bottom-up evolution, not a top-down vendor-driven coup. The rapid turnover in mobile devices is the perfect laboratory for 3D research and development.

Comments welcome, of course. All in all, this year's CES seemed to be more creative than last year's. That's reason for optimism.

Topic: CES

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39 comments
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  • It will only evolve truly if they can make it safe

    Nintendo is saying young kids should not use their 3d for more than 30 minutes because it can damage eyes, and Samsung reporting seizures from watching 3D TV. Finally a number of reports that some people with astigmatism get serious headaches when exposed to 3D (I know I did when I went to Avatar and left 20 minutes into the shit).

    At some point the industry has to truly address the health risks of 3D, or expect a class action lawsuit in the future that could wipe out a large electronics firm or two.
    oldsysprog
    • Nintedo 3Ds is actually dangerous to kids since parents are rarely able ...

      @oldsysprog: ... to control how much time their children take to play with the gaming device. Especially hard to deal with portable devices like 3Ds.
      DDERSSS
      • RE: How 3D will evolve

        @denisrs I grew up with my parents supervising how much time I could play games, and as such have to say that what you said really isn't true. But it's beside the point anyway; Nintendo's warning was that the device wasn't good for kids under 7, regardless of the time spent. After 7, it should be fine; a responsible parent should still watch their kid for signs of problems, but most should not be adversely affected.
        guardianmega
  • RE: How 3D will evolve

    Don't want to wear glasses when watching TV. No thanks.
    Droid101
    • same here

      @Droid101
      too lazy to put the glasses only for certain channels.
      Linux Geek
    • RE: How 3D will evolve

      @Droid101

      I dont want to wear glasses to read a book.
      No thanks
      Centurion01
  • Glasses, siezures, and headaches. I don't think so.

    I will get HD in my house when R2D2 rolls in and projects that hologram of Princess Leia onto my coffee table. Anything less than that is just too much of a pain in the (something).
    doodlius
  • Use 3D.. Maybe?

    If some of which you mention up above comes true. No glasses, safe for viewers, and rich content delivery.

    But I still think that if I want to witness something in 3D I will just look at the real world. 3D in Movies, TV, and Games do nothing for me but give me a headache and that could be due to the glasses or due to the fact that the method to simulate the 3D is not perfected enough yet. Right now it is being used as a gimmick and being used to death. My Mom and Dad seem to be the only one I know "Wowed" by 3D. They went out and bought a new 3D TV, 3D Blu-Ray player and when all of us kids (and our kids) were over they wanted to watch a 3D movie. They even bought extra glasses for everyone. No one wanted to watch a Movie in 3D but them.
    bobiroc
  • Don't forget about 3D agnostics

    I'm one eye blind so 3D doesn't work for me, with or without glasses. They need to make sure that a 3D program can be seen normally for those who can't see the 3D, so I could sit with my family watching the movie in 2D while they see it in 3D.
    lepoete73
    • RE: How 3D will evolve

      @lepoete73
      If you wear the glasses then you should see only one eye of the 3d. Thus 2d.
      Centurion01
  • RE: How 3D will evolve

    I loved the 3D effects in Avatar...the ambers floating in the theater when the tree was on fire was what sold me on the idea that I was getting my money's worth....but then....I had gotten $10 off because I was using "free" passes for the normal movie rate....and even with that, the price was higher than what I would normally have paid for a movie.....If the 3D effects were not that awe inspiring, I would have felt cheated...at the discounted rate....not the full 3D price....at the full 3D price, I'd probably still have felt cheated.

    3D is a novelty....like Imax motion theaters.

    Let the theaters keep those novelties....it'll give us all a reason to go to the theater.

    At home, there is too many other things going on to get the same results as in the theater....even in our home where I want the most authentic 2-D Dolby Surround Sound experience possible with certain movies....you know....where you can feel the movie with the sound system like in a theater.....but 3D glasses and annoying little anomalies when I move around....after forking out 4 times the cash investment? No thanks!
    VRSpock
  • RE: How 3D will evolve

    Holographic projectors, please! Besides, like lepoete73, I can only see with one eye (right).
    Grayson Peddie
    • RE: How 3D will evolve

      @Grayson Peddie

      I only see with my left, together we could get the full 3D... :)
      lepoete73
  • RE: How 3D will evolve

    3D is here to stay and in 3 Years not 10 it will be full blown over all industries, Next up the 3DMobileNetwork
    dmpartners
    • RE: How 3D will evolve

      @dmpartners Exactly what are you basing this off of? The 3D TV market has been a bust so far, mostly since most consumers either can't afford one or aren't done with their HD sets yet (I fall into that latter one, having gotten mine less than two years ago). Although I think the Nintendo 3DS will be a hit (I plan on getting one myself), I think that a lot of refinements will have to be made for 3D to take over other markets. And no evidence to the contrary has been offered.
      guardianmega
    • RE: How 3D will evolve

      @dmpartners that is absolutely incorrect, as far as 3-D in the home goes. Most people have already purchased thin widescreen TVs, and aren't going to upgrade sooner rather than later. People don't turn over TVs, they keep them for years. TV sales were already trending down before 3-D hit the market; 3-D won't change that.

      People are NOT going to adapt to wearing those glasses at home. Constantly taking them on and off to go to the kitchen, the bathroom, to talk to the person next to you? Not going to happen.

      3-D that does not require glasses appears to be on the horizon already. It may be years away, but people aren't going to invest in a technology that has an obvious built-in limited lifetime.

      In other applications current 3-D technology may have a place, but it is going nowhere in the home.
      Stoshie
  • RE: How 3D will evolve

    One issue the industry has is that not everyone wants to buy a new TV every year as the technology slowly improves. As someone who watched their large screen TV quickly drop in price while the resolution improved you could say I was a disappointed consumer. Why would I buy a 3D TV today when I know in 6 months they'll be better and cheaper? Yes, I like the latest thing, but unfortunately I just don't have that kind of money.<br><br>Personally what I'd prefer is a good TV that had some of the features of old. My old CRT and projection TV's had great picture-in-picture, super fast channel changing, great built-in sound, and a great UI. Unfortunately my newer 65" LCD has useless picture-in picture, is slow when changing channels and the features like timers and usability have taken a back seat to the screen. And man, can't they make it so non-high def programs don't look so poor quality? They act like hi-def is some great new thing, but really it's needed to get the same resolution we used to have on our smaller screens. I'm sounding like some cranky old guy... back in my day... <img border="0" src="http://www.cnet.com/i/mb/emoticons/happy.gif" alt="happy">

    Oh, and it would be nice to have a setting where the optimized screen size was automatic. All this 4:3, 16:9, whatever:whatever is annoying. Maybe some brands have automated screen size switching - but my two expensive TV's don't.
    SMparky
  • RE: How 3D will evolve

    Hopefully it won't.
    james347
    • RE: How 3D will evolve

      @james347

      Are you saying this because you like it the way it is or because you see no value in it even if it improves.
      bobiroc
  • It's still about content

    Crappy movies in 3D are still crappy. I would be happy if the movie producers would simply concentrate on strong characters and quality stories instead of wasting their money on special effects that add little to the experience. I might watch a movie like Avatar once, but have no interest in seeing it again or owning a copy when the characters are flat and the story sophomoric.
    itpro_z