Imagine enjoying all the benefits of a 3D experience without the need for uncomfortable, limiting specs. That day could be sooner than expected as Toshiba prepare to release a 3D TV that works by displaying rays of light at varying angles thus eliminating the need for glasses. Rival company Samsung will go one step further as they plan to release their own 3D set which will also incorporate emerging OLED technology. Organic light emitting diode requires no additional backlighting within a TV set so the main advantage of this technology is that screens can be flexible and very thin. Theoretically this would eventually allow 3D imaging on other devices which could incorporate OLED, such as smartphones or MP3s with fold or roll-out screens. A bonus when it comes to the limits of screen size on handheld devices.

Do we really need 3D to enhance our TV viewing though? Whilst there has been renewed interest in the format in cinemas with successes like ‘Avatar’, does the technology really have the same impact on the small screen? It would certainly deliver the wow factor in sporting events like Tennis and Football, but it’s unlikely to add much to a drama which relies more on narrative and characterisation to engage, rather than peripheral effects. Then there are the reported health issues. According to some medical experts, eye-strain and the confusion experienced with the speed at which the brain can accept conflicting images, could induce symptoms such as nausea, dizziness and headaches. Recent research in the US suggests that at least 20% of viewers are likely to experience these adverse effects whilst viewing 3D images. Not a great prognosis!

Interestingly enthusiasm from the viewing public has hardly been forthcoming either. According to a recent survey by YouGov, only 2% of consumers polled said they were planning to purchase a 3D set over the next year. Maybe it’s a case of ‘too much, too soon’ as many viewers are still adjusting to TV life in HD and just aren’t quite ready for another step-up on the technology scale. That could all change once the right content is created though. Perhaps a major programme ‘event’ that could utilise everything 3D has to offer. Much in the way that Big Brother offered the opportunity for greater interactivity and streaming across other platforms, ultimately changing the way TV is viewed. Sky’s dedicated 3DTV channel is due to launch within the next couple of months so could act as a barometer for what will ultimately prove popular in 3D and what won’t.


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