PARIS The Consumer Electronics Show is still more than a week away, but I'm already feeling 3-D blues. And something tells me I'm not alone.
Sure, James Cameron's "Avatar" has been finally released once and for all -- presumably turning 3-D non-believers into converts; 3-D technology companies are busy signing last-minute licensing deals with CE hardware vendors -- just in time for more 3-D hype at CES; and we all know that Hollywood's 3-D drumbeat and the CE industry's take-no-prisoner approach to 3-D TV will only escalate in 2010.
This all occurs for good reason. 3-D is a shining example of how new technology advances -- while everyone from content producer to chip developer counts on the new variation to make money at a time of great recession.
So, I tell myself, why spoil the party? And yet, I just can't shake off this nagging feeling.
Here's the problem.
The CE industry has for years talked about making everyone's life easier -- by offering "better experiences" via brighter, larger-screen flat-panel TVs or ever smaller portable cameras and mobile phones. If they really mean it, then, what are they doing here by forcing everyone to wear 3-D glasses which will be -- for most people -- an uncomfortable experience?
A couple of months ago, I happened to run into an executive working in the 3-D industry, and the next thing you know, we were having lunch together. We've known each other for a long time. As we caught up, talking about various aspects of our professional lives, our conversation inevitably returned to 3-D, where it originally started. We covered all ground, debating every possible pro and con.
After all that back and forth, I looked him in the eye and asked him one last question: "So, if there is one thing that could trip up the industry and lead 3-D to failure on the mass market, what would that be?"
Without missing a beat, he answered: "3-D glasses."
I've always trusted the guy, but this straight answer reinforced my respect for him.
In fact, next time you're in a 3-D movie theater, look around -- especially at the kids in the audience. You'll notice that many are holding one side of their 3-D glasses and pressing it against their faces -- for the movie's entire duration.
A simple fact is that 3-D glasses provided by theaters today -- regardless of different technologies applied -- are just too big for most kids to wear.