The advent of 3D movie content will be a driver for theatre revenues, and might be a driver for TV hardware revenues (due primarily to a desire of current buyers to be 3D-enabled). But I don't think it will be as much of driver for TV content providers for now. The current flood of 3D theatre releases are designed to showcase 3D, but visual storytelling doesn't really rely on this. Then there is the inconvenience of wearing glasses for casual viewing versus sitting down and watching the special feature for a dedicated 2 hours. My expectation is that 3D will be a high-end home theatre feature, but not a must have on every display.
Requiring everyone to wear glasses is a non-starter, even if the manufacturers could standardize on one 3D technology requiring just one type of glasses.
Even when we get to the point of 3DTV without glasses, there is still the whole issue of viewer fatigue and nausea. Product liability could be a real issue if large numbers of viewers start getting sick from watching too many hours of 3DTV without a break.
I watched few 3D movies and I have to confess that I did not enjoy the experience that much. Wearing the special glasses for once was annoying, but I did not feel the image was crisp and realistic enough. I would not pay a premium price for 3D TV anytime soon. I'll stick with HD 2D TV, thank you very much.
When i saw high resolution LCD screens in Japan 20 years ago I was astounded by them -- but I am still watching television on a CRT.
On the other hand when I have seen 3-D technologies of any sort I have found them clunky and that they get in the way of the visual information transfer rather than enhancing it.
So if I have not (quite) been prepared to pay the premium for a flat high-definition 2-D screen that i know can look great I certainly do not expect to pay a higher premium for 3-D television any time soon. Phil Ling's 20 year time frame may be right, but I expect 2-D watching to dominate.
Now the technology's off the drawing board, I can't imagine a future without 3D.
OK,at the moment it's not perfect but that will change, and it appears to me that the rate of change for technology is accelerating - the market adoption curve is changing as the early-adopter phase shrinks; this will drive the technology.
I do think it's been announced at the wrong time, particularly in the UK where the current shift is toward HD Freeview and/or Freesat, which is now being offered in-built to many new TVs.
Ultimately 3D will require a new appliance and the main challenge here is reducing the buy-cycle for a new TV, based on the desire to have 3D.
Give it 20 years (or probably less) and we'll have 3D in our homes.
Editor, EETimes Europe,
Publishing Editor, Emcore Magazine
Great comments. I have a certain degree of skepticism myself, for many of the reasons you outline above. The lack of content is a huge issue, as are the requirement for users to wear 3-D glasses. I understand there is some development underway on 3-D technology that won't require glasses. For my money, until we get there (if we do), this market is not going to be as large as people predict.
I too am somewhat pessimistic, but not about the acceptance of the technology. The added manufacturing cost is next to nothing, since the basic technology isn't any different. It has been possible to display 3D on TV for years using external electronics. Adding this to the TV is just value added to the consumer. My pessimism comes from the whole marketing machine that tends to see any advance (even one that has no overhead) as another way to bilk the consumer out of more money. They will charge too much for the TVs they will certainly charge more for the programming, whether it will be broadcast OTA, via internet, or distributed on physical media. Expect a large premium. This is currently killing the 3D movie industry. Paying 30% more for a movie in 3D is too much. That being said, the "sucker-born-every-minute" consumer, will just blindly go along with being nickeled and dimed for every cent. This is what will kill 3D in movies and TV. Blame the MBA's and their bad ideas about marketing.
I wonder, somewhat pessimistically, if 3D TV isn't poised to tank? As neat as the technology is, I haven't heard much enthusiasm on the street for program material in 3D. Possibly, this is simply because most people aren't more than vaguely aware that it's in the offing, or perhaps there aren't enough displays in the big retailers to 3D a must-have for the early adoption crowd. If Blu-Ray is any indication, there may be a rocky road ahead. My Blu-Ray player is superb: it will track DVDs that my NTSC units give up on, and has nice Internet connectivity features. But I have few Blu-Ray discs. The reason? Cost of a Blu-Ray product over the standard DVD. No one seems to notice the difference at my home, and the playback unit is a 50 something inch plasma display! I can tell, but I don't do most of the watching. Time will tell us whether or not 3D is going to become ubiquitous.