Will Too Much Diversity Stifle 3D?

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Like it or loathe it, 3D video is going to be hard to avoid at InfoComm 09. Even before the show has begun, the prospects for 3D were among the topics under discussion at Insight Media’s Projection Summit – the traditional curtain-raiser conference at which industry leaders discuss emerging video technologies and their likely impact on the way integrators do business.

A blog like this isn’t the place to discuss in detail the pros and cons of how we go about creating a realistic and satisfying 3D experience for users, whether they be in government or commerce, or simply regular consumers looking to add a new dimension to their home entertainment. But the mere fact that there are so many ways of trying to fool the brain into thinking there is real depth to the image lying in front of it is, some say, hindering the adoption of 3D.

“It’s a common standard that’s missing,” commented Dermot Quinn, Product Development Director, Digital Projection, during a comparison of approaches to stereoscopic imaging. “If we had that, it would not matter what method of left-eye/right-eye separation we used.”

The diversity of available approaches puts the onus on the integrator to supply the right solution for the job. “We have to approach each application of stereography differently,” said Paul Carey, speaking on behalf of Flexible Picture Systems. “Medical imaging, for example, won’t tolerate active eyewear, so you must use a passive solution. There is a sea of standards and possibilities, and it is up to integrators to come up with a solution that is the best compromise.”

As things stand, pretty much every method of 3D projection and display involves some kind of compromise. Dermot Quinn confessed that he struggles with “the idea of ordinary families putting on 3D glasses to watch TV”, while Ben J. Averch, Eyevision’s Global Product Manager, Eyewear Displays, added: “People are not going to want to sit around at home and wear active shutter glasses. We have to find a way of making the glasses cool, so that the only barrier to user adoption is the usability of services.”

Along with his fellow panelists, Averch raised the possibility of 3D glasses that you wear all day long because they are a ubiquitous service delivery mechanism – something as indispensable as your cellphone is today. These glasses would supply GPS and WiFi, not just 3D games or movies.

This all sounds a little far-fetched to me. But then, I would never have imagined that people would be happy to wear Bluetooth headsets in public for hours at a time, so who am I to judge?

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