In Depth: Why 3D is important
Why 3D is important
3D has been a buzzword in the technology industry for years. Ever since Avatar brought 3D cinema back into the public eye in 2009, there’s been a resurgence of interest in 3D technologies.
Now we’re surrounded by 3D TVs (with and without glasses), 3D computer monitors, 3D videogames, portable 3D games consoles like the Nintendo 3DS, 3D Blu-rays, 3D web streaming and even 3D sound. It seems like most of the major electronics companies are jumping on the 3D bandwagon, but why?
3D is nothing new; in fact, the first patent for stereoscopic 3D movies (where two images are combined to fool the eye into seeing footage in three dimensions) dates back to 1894. Since then, there’s been a cycle every 10-15 years where 3D is hawked as the next big thing, people flock to cinemas to experience it and then it quietly fades away until the next generation rediscovers it.
What makes 3D entertainment so attractive to us? Why do we strive to replace our 2D displays with ones that fool us into seeing that extra dimension, and what will happen when we finally do?
To understand 3D’s attraction, we spoke to Joanna Bawa, a chartered psychologist with a special interest in technology. She feels it’s something inherent in the way we view the world.
“3D is appealing because it’s more like reality than 2D,” she says. “We can choose to engage with 2D entertainment by making a decision, in effect, suspending our disbelief. With 3D, the choice is far less conscious because 3D engages us whether we like it or not by triggering unconscious responses, which are more closely connected with our emotional selves.”
Samsung, which is investing heavily in 3D tech, agrees. “Viewers want to feel involved in what they’re watching, and immersed in the environments portrayed on screen,” a company spokesman told us. “3D is the most important evolution in visual technology for decades.”
But we’ve been here before. In the ’80s, viewers were thrilled by films like Jaws 3-D and Amityville 3-D, but the technology was mothballed almost as soon as it appeared. Is 3D just a fad – an attractive novelty rather than something genuinely useful?
“3D isn’t a fad,” Bawa explains. “It’s an aspiration we’re some way off achieving, but which continues to drive us. The closer we get to 3D, the less visible the seam between technology and the real world, and the more immersive the experience. So, while it’s true that we’re attracted to novelty, in a way 3D is more traditional because it more accurately reflects our every day experience of interacting with the world. That doesn’t mean 3D is good for everything, though!”
On the bandwagon
You wouldn’t believe it looking at the vast range of products now bearing the 3D label, one of the latest examples of which is 3D web streaming.
“To expand the 3D TV market, we have launched a free 3D video on demand (VoD) service to the UK,” Samsung told us. “The service is available on Samsung Smart TVs, and lets users access 20 free 3D videos on demand. But this is just the start – by the end of the year we will be offering up to 70 free 3D VoDs and believe that in years to come,
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