3D Glasses Not Going Away

Despite Hollywood dumping out flick after flick after flick in 3D, there has been resistance to adoption of the home version.

The reason?

Not the cost of the sets. Not the slim availability of content. Not the size of the screens.

It’s the glasses.

A survey published by Nielsen this week showed that the hesitation to adopt 3DTV is because we don’t like wearing the glasses.

“It’s a marketing challenge,” adds Frank Stagliano, Nielsen’s general manager of TV Primary Research.

Stereoscopic glasses were the biggest deal breaker in regards to purchasing a set, with almost 50 percent of the 425 people surveyed complaining that they are uncomfortable or a “hassle.”

89 percent of those surveyed complained that wearing the glasses made it almost impossible to do anything else.

Says the study: “A lot of consumers, especially younger ones, like to multitask and were irritated that they can’t.”

I asked Barry Murray, Director Marketing AV Group of Panasonic about this exception and he responded that 3DTV is event driven television.  There’s no reason to watch the news, or How I Met Your Mother or CSI in 3D, it’s sporting events and movies that draw the 3D crowd.

3DTV isn’t meant for the tv in the kitchen or the bedroom, it’s a home theatre luxury.  A feature to be added to a darkened room where people gather to watch a 3D Blu Ray or a major sports event like the World Cup, the Super Bowl or the Masters.

The fact that you can’t multitask when wearing 3D glasses doesn’t matter when you’re in a darkened room and the sole focus of being in the basement home theatre is to watch the Olympics (the 2012 Games from London will be available in 3D).

But will people buy in to that argument?  Can they get around the fact that 3D TVs are also 2D TVs and that you don’t need to watch everything in 3D all the time?

Will the consumers understand that the goggles (at $200 a pop) are just necessary for the big events and the rest of the time when you’re watching Dancing With the Stars or you can just kick back and multitask away as you soak in a clear HD experience?

They’d better, because 3D TV is the big push by the set manufacturers and the goggles aren’t going away. It’s impossible to watch 3DTV without them.


Here’s Bill Schindler, VP of Electrical Engineering of Panasonic, explaining how 3DTV works:

When you wear the goggles, they work in phase with the tv to turn one lens on and off (that’s why they’re battery powered).  It’s a rapid shuttering effect that works in sync with the images being shown on the screen.  First only the left eye sees a left image, then the right eye sees a right image etc etc.  The images are flickered at 1/120th of a second giving you a traditional 60 frames per second moving image.

Without the glasses you just see two images simultaneously.  So you NEED the glasses to see 3D, it’s just how our eyes work – it’s a physiological barrier of human design that makes it impossible to create the 3D sensation on a television without some sort of visual aid.

To create that 3D effect the image shot with the left lens NEEDS to go the left eye and the left eye only.  We need a device next to our face to effectively turn off our vision from the right eye while the left eye is seeing it’s image and the opposite for when the right eye sees it’s image.  The only way to do that is with a device next to our face – glasses.

My grandparents just ditched their tv last spring for a flat panel device.  The hutch embedded set that eventually expired was nearly 30 years old.  The current rate of replacement for tvs is every 7 – 10 years as people upgrade the inches and slim down their profiles.  So the 3DTV adoption rate probably has another 5-7 years before it really goes mainstream, but the glasses are never going away.

Unless .. holograms become the norm.  Barry Murray says that’s the next phase of the technology that could remove the glasses from the 3D equation, but it’s decades away from the home theatre.

buzz bishop future shop tech blogThis post was originally published at The Future Shop Tech Blog.



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