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The Blinding Effect of 3D

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clip_image002No matter what form of candy you partake, too much is almost always bad for you…yes, even eye candy. Viewing 3D has made an awesome comeback and many will argue that now is the perfect time since we’re able to affectively marry hardware technology with the 3D viewing effect. In fact, judging from CES 2011, 3DTV seems like it will be one of the major technologies that will impact us this year.

Although there are some who are incapable of viewing the 3D affect and some report to have headaches after prolonged viewing, most are able to comfortably enjoy the plethora of eye-popping 3D cinematography.

With a public who have seemingly really jumped on the 3D band wagon with 3DTV purchases, 3D movie purchases and even special Nvidia 3DTV video cards and glasses are allowing us to game in 3D. The problem is, we’re trying to use Stereo monitors and TV’s to view 3D content with time lengths similar to what we view normal images. The issue, which makes sense once you take a minute to think about it is; if viewing content regularly on monitors and TV’s causes eye fatigue and headaches after a prolonged period of time, why wouldn’t viewing 3D content have the same affect, sooner?

clip_image004In viewing 3D content, on whatever medium of choice, your brain and eyes have increased activity. You brain and eyes are now working harder in order to process more information and calculations. We don’t consciously think about it but your eyes are not only adjusting for the illusion of depth but also adding things such as interpreting the light bouncing off or passing through a surface such as monitors, TVs an movie screens. I remember how tired my eyes got and the headaches I would get back in the 90’s after looking through my newly purchased Magic Eye book. Remember those? Although it was just arranged ink on a flat 2D surface, the added affect and adjustment/work the eyes had to make in order to produce that effect took its toll. Granted, our tolerance levels are different but the principle remains the same…work wears us out! This is a universal principle which doesn’t take a genius to figure out. However, apparently it does merit enough effort to have an entire research team at University of California – Berkley to figure out and disclose its findings to the public.

clip_image006With grants from JSPS Fellows and Samsung SAIT, a research team from UC Berkley experimented on 24 adults to discover that viewing 3D content on a stereo display can cause visual discomfort, fatigue, and headaches. I suppose that in order to legitimize this research and the money they got to conduct it, they needed to throw “vergence-accomodation” at it which means that the eye must constantly adjust to both the distance of the physical screen and that of the 3D content.

I don’t think that this ‘discovery’ will hinder the growth of 3DTV but it is something to definitely consider when purchasing that stereo 3D display. If you know that you are susceptible to headaches and eye fatigue after a short amount of time of watching movies or your computer screen, you may want to opt out of the 3D television set. Always a good option is to have product with the capability but you get to choose when and how much. As for me, I love 3D and find it worth the extra $5 when movies are released in 3D (as long as it’s an action movie). I even spent the extra money to integrate technology with the capability of producing the 3D effect as part of my home system integration configuration.

We’re interested in your opinions concerning the future of 3D. Is it worth the fuss? Do you want to see more 3D innovation from the companies involved in the entertainment business? If so, are you willing to spend a little extra money to include that innovation in your Connected Home setup?

-Alan

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