Is 3D technology going to take over?

25 Mar 2011


Although 3D technology is proper old school, there is an inescapable buzz about its latest revival. 3D TVs are selling and many gamers have been salivating for months over the Nintendo 3DS, but what is it about this technology that’s making us weak at the knees?

3D technology has come a long way since this shot was taken

For starters, it has come a long way from the 1980s 3D cinema boom that saw many people, who were previously not bothered about donning the specs, going gaga for them. The glasses play a big part in the latest 3D revival too, with complex active shutter models replacing the flimsy pieces of red and green plastic. Is it just me or did they always look like they were made from empty cereal boxes?

So why now? With technological advances putting the headaches of red and green specs in the past, savvy home tech firms predicted the popularity of modern high-quality, high-definition, high-impact 3D cinema releases and got involved.

In a bid to replicate the 3D cinema experience, 3D TVs were made compatible with special 3D Blu-ray players and 3D Blu-ray discs. All of the sudden people were enjoying true 3D movie watching from the comfort of their sofas – with no one loudly chomping popcorn in the seat behind.

This time around, the technology has the heavy squad behind it – with Samsung, Sony and Panasonic all on board. The recent launch of Sky’s 3D channel has helped too, bringing 3D technology into the realms of live sports and events.

Research from Strategy Analytics suggests that 42% of European homes will have a 3D TV by 2014. And one Panasonic boss told Tech Radar that sales of 3D TVs are ahead of HD TVs when you compare unit sales at this point in the technology’s life.

But people are also buying 3D TVs for gaming. Playing to the crowd, Sony has announced plans to release “nearly 30 titles” with 3D support this year for PlayStation 3.

One 3D-capable gaming machine you won’t need a telly for is the pocket-sized Nintendo 3DS. Many gamers were so keen to get their mitts on one they trekked out at midnight on March 25 – now there’s dedication.

The 3DS is likely to open up 3D to a whole new audience. In fact, an industry bigwig has said that 3D gaming could be among the “main driving forces” of bringing 3D to the home. Get you, gamers.

Also limbering up for the 3D boom are the laptop and camcorder markets. All of this suggests we’re on the cusp of a full-blown 3D revolution, but the masses have not yet fully committed to the technology, with many consumers perhaps not ready to upgrade their HD-ready TV.

Something that experts reckon would make a difference is 3D TV without glasses. Yep that’s right, 3D telly without the specs, with a prototype recently unveiled by Samsung.

However, the firm told Slashgear “Attempts to put glasses-free 3D TV to market within the next 10 years will be difficult”, suggesting we may be waiting a few years yet.

So what else is stopping people from taking the plunge? The prices are fairly high right now, but the cost is likely to come down over the coming months. And when it does, 3D could go into orbit, with sports fans, techies, mums, dads, school kids and students floating around its dreamy galaxy, getting used to film stars and footballers jumping out of the screen and into their living rooms.

Will you be climbing on board the 3D revolution with a 3DS or new TV? Comment below…