3D – The Next Frontier

While 3D was the show-stealer in last year’s CES, the presence at CES this year is more about expanding technology options to get around some of the issues of cost, comfort and style associated with 3D glasses.  The vast majority of 3D options featured at CES from Samsung, Sony, LG, Toshiba, Panasonic and others involve either “active” shutter 3D eyewear or the new “passive” polarized technology.  Active shutter glasses are expensive and clunky and must be recharged.  They also pose potential health issues due to batteries being so close to the brain.  Ow!  Passive polarized technology is significantly less expensive and generally more viewer-friendly.  Passive polarized is designed to get higher adoption of 3D in the living room after a disappointing year following the 3D-dominated 2010 CES.   Also, at a panel session on 3D, one panelist mentioned that mainstream glasses manufacturers, like Oakley, are getting into the 3D glasses arena, no doubt bringing style into consideration.  

Also notable, Sony and Toshiba displayed no-glasses 3D prototypes.  This technology mimics the 3D experience by superimposing different angles of the same 2D image.  Glasses -free is expected to hit the market in late 2011 – early 2012.

Content has also been a barrier to greater adoption of 3D in the living room.   Expect more content as 2011 progresses.  In fact, ESPN will be offering 3D programming ALL DAY on Valentine’s Day.  While this sounds like a BAD IDEA for obvious reasons, it’s a sign that media companies are serious about 3D.

3D isn’t just relegated to TV sets.  It was carried over into other devices as well.   Check out this glasses-free 3D tablet from iStation, the Zood.  Also notable, Nintendo 3DS captured CNET’s Best in CES Best Gaming award.

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