PARIS For more than 50 years, the greatest drawback to the broad adoption and acceptance of 3-D entertainment in motion pictures and television has been the simplest device among all the technologies that make 3-D possible — those annoying one-size-fits-nobody cardboard glasses.
As everyone who has ever watched a 3-D film knows, 3-D images appear blurry, off-register and discolored unless filtered through special lenses. With these glasses, however, this Christmas season's 3-D films are so dazzling that strong men swoon and toddlers wet their pants. However, these glasses — literally unchanged since the first 3-D movies in the 1950's — are clunky and inconvenient. Video industry experts agree that consumers will reject 3-D television if it requires them to keep a supply of ill-fitting, disposable spectacles somewhere in the family rumpus room.
Indeed, in a recent trial in Germany, one test subject, a man already plagued by a chronic tendency to misplace his remote control, wasn't able to find his viewing glasses. His reaction is recorded as the first known instance of "3-D rage." According to police, the frustrated man trashed his own living room and kicked his dog, a German shepherd named Fritzi. Only the timely intervention of his neighbors prevented the furious TV viewer from coldcocking his wife with a set-top box.
Such tragedies, however, are now unlikely thanks to a joint announcement here today, at an international optics conference sponsored by the Consumer Electronics Alliance and the American Congress of Cosmetic Elective Surgery and Specialties (ACCESS).
"The need for those ugly3-D glasses can be eliminated with a relatively easy, quick and inexpensive surgical procedure," declared alliance spokesman and ACCESS president, Dr. Alphonse Argus.
Dr. Argus explained that, in this procedure, a crack optical surgeon snips two small nerves and then inserts into each eye a special electronic 3-D receptor. After a few days of healing, the patient can see 3-D video without special glasses. Dr. Argus crowed, "Suddenly, any film or TV show made with 3-D technology explodes before the eye with a vividness and clarity that virtually blows the viewer's mind."
In early trials, according to ACCESS, reactions have ranged from mere delight to an almost catatonic state of euphoria which required several hours of recovery. "It''s like a really good acid trip," said Dr. Argus, "if anybody here is old enough to remember that."
One drawback in this surgery, Dr. Argus noted, is that the snipping of nerves leaves the patient unable to see the regular, physical world around him or her in three dimensions or colors.
"Right now," explained Argus, "the humdrum and nasty visions of daily life appear to the human eye in rich color and infinite depth. This is quite impressive, but what are you looking at? Your wife and kids who never change. Your house, your breakfast, the traffic on your way to work, your desk. All this rigmarole is a tragic waste of depth perception."