How 3D Television Works and Why It Is Failing
With television viewership and broadcasting reaching all-time highs, it is easy to see why viewers are interested in maximizing their home theaters with 3D technology. However, due to limited advancements in the technology and the high costs of production and home use, many viewers are steering clear of this latest craze.
Current 3D technology displays images that are slightly offset and filtered separately through each of the viewer's eyes. This can be done stereoscopically or autostereoscopically.
The stereoscopic effect is achieved by having the viewer wear glasses or headgear to filter two slightly different images in each eye. When processed by the brain, this disparity creates the illusion of depth. This effect is created using passive or active 3D technology.
Passive 3D involves the use of polarizing lenses to block certain colors of light from each eye. By blocking different colors of light, the glasses create slight color differentiation between each eye. This allows the viewer to perceive the 3D effect.
Active 3D shutter technology involves alternating liquid crystal images from one eye to the other at an extremely fast rate. The images change so rapidly the viewer does not realize the gaps but instead recognizes the variation in the images as 3D perception.
The autostereoscopic method of projection has a light source divide the images directly into the viewer's eyes without the use of glasses. When light sources are used to separate the images, autostereoscopic 3D either utilizes eye tracking technology for a single user or creates multiple views for multiple users.
When using the technology which creates multiple views, the display creates multiple viewing zones which allow viewers to experience similar 3D effects regardless of their position in relation to the screen. However, this technology does exhibit dead zones where viewers in certain positions in a room may only see images in 2D.
Despite dramatic percentage increases in the sale of 3D televisions, many noteworthy 3D broadcasting channels are failing. Several channels across the world have decided to drop production of 3D content due to high cost and low viewership. These include:
- British Broadcasting System (United Kingdom)
- Entertainment and Sports Programming Network (United States)
- Canel+ (France)
- Foxtel (Australia)
The extra costs of 3D televisions and channels have discouraged many 3D viewers from utilizing the new technology. Additionally, many users complain of discomfort from the glasses required for stereoscopic viewing. Eye strain and headaches also plague 3D viewers due to the increased and abnormal activity which must occur in the eyes and brain to process the images. For these reasons, many television experts are predicting the eminent demise of 3D television.
At this time, the technology and services required for 3D enjoyment has not met with demand. The cost for home 3D technology is too high, viewing technology is still lacking, and channels are few and expensive. Until 3D technology becomes more affordable and reliable, most home users are likely to avoid this latest television trend.