A few weeks ago Nintendo released the 3DS, the glasses-free 3D portable gaming platform and the next step in 3D technology. But why then is there still a need for 3D glasses at the cinema?
Last year, the 3D film Avatar took the top spot at the box office and the production-line of 3D cinema has since ballooned. (There was a witty reference to Disney’s Up in there somewhere.) Clearly 3D is the industry buzz-word for 2010/11 with media producers aiming to crack the market and lead the way in 3D experience for consumers, but what is the key to the three-dimensional door?
Speculation online has been rife around the technology inside the 3DS allowing for 3D gaming without the need for glasses – it’s widely known that three-dimensional viewing works by each eye seeing a different image and when put back together by your brain you get a 3D image. Traditionally both polarising and anaglyph (red and cyan) glasses filter images between the left and right eye, this is called stereoscopic 3D. Whilst there’s been no official word from Nintendo on this one, speculation online suggests that the 3DS achieves stereoscopy using a filter over the screen which can be switched on or off to block out light going to your left and right eye – meaning users of the device can switch between 2D and 3D images.
By now you’ve probably guessed where this is going, why not put filters over all cinema screens you may ask. The technology which is speculatively used in the 3DS – called a parallax barrier (yes, another big word) – is highly dependent on the angle at which you view the images, on the small screen of a portable gaming device the filter works well but if scaled up to the size of cinema screens the filter simply wouldn’t effectively split the left and right images.
Recent research has resulted in some speculation around the health-implications of stereoscopic 3D imagery – with your eyes focussed on different images some scientists have raised their concerns of excessive eye-strain and other complications. Whilst there’s no official word on the health implications of cinema-scale 3D viewing, have you ever wondered why some pre-roll adverts are in 3D and some aren’t? Easing your eyes into the 3D experience has been suggested as one way to alleviate some of the traditional symptoms of 3D viewing. So are we going to see more 3D adverts?
Increasing investment in 3D technology both for the home and cinema means that 3D advertising could see a massive surge in the next year. Previously shelling out for a 3D advert would mean that your investment would only get your product or brand promoted in three-dimensions on the big screen, however with devices such as the 3DS becoming popular investment in 3D adverts have the prospect to be used across a multitude of emerging platforms.
Even though the technology used in the Nintendo 3DS can’t be up-scaled to work on cinema-scale, the filters are currently being tested in other hand-held devices and in glasses-free 3D televisions. Imagine a 3D mobile phone, mp3 player or sat-nav – already being trialled in Range Rovers believe it or not.