September 21, 2015

Kill the 3D Zombies!

Whacking the Perennial Zombies
Some pesky vision health zombies just won’t die. I place these unwanted zombies into two categories: lessons we have forgotten or somehow unlearned; and lessons not yet learned.

Forgotten Lessons. At all major conferences, I see the same thing. Many exhibitors still don’t know how to show stereo 3D, auto-stereoscopic 3D, or 4K without causing nausea or discomfort. I have a higher tolerance than most, yet many 4K and 3D displays in exhibit halls are upsetting to watch. Have we forgotten? Just because the technology moves to mobile, auto-stereoscopic, virtual reality goggles, 4K or UHD display and beyond doesn’t mean vision issues just ‘disappear’. Would we rather have passersby wince and hurry away—or stop, savor, and inquire? That’s the bottom line. It’s all about the content, plainly. Showing furious rollercoaster rides, wild river rapid trips, or spiraling, head-turning motion is simply crazy. That sort of content conveys a hidden biological message to educators that the technology is somehow not ready for prime time. On the other hand, LG, Christie, zSpace, AVRover, DesignMate, Cyber-Anatomy, CubeDigico, and several other hardware/content manufacturers really know what they are doing. They push their video content out to passersby in a slower “savoring” mode, which is particularly appealing to the educational customer. 

Lessons Not Yet Learned. Over the last year, I have met with many of the innovators bringing new products, displays, and solutions to the ed market. My experience thus far is that they are largely unaware of the seminal AOA work found in See Well, Learn Well. Manufacturers cannot expect success if they are oblivious to vision health issues. And most innovators new to the 3D scene don’t have a satisfactory answer to the educator or consumer with the concern that “this gives me headaches” or “will this hurt my children?” (The common responses are dismissive: “don’t let those children use the technology”; or “there is no problem at all.”)

Just because 3D virtual reality headgear is cool, or auto-stereoscopic 3D content is eye-popping, that doesn’t make it impervious to what we know about the vision challenges of viewers.  The vision issue didn’t just go away with the advent of the next big technology. The takeaway here is that these companies will never sell 3D or other advanced display technologies well unless they also handle this vision health issue soundly.

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