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The reality of glassless 3D

LG Optimus 3D with glassless 3D display

LG’s 3D device was the most frequently cited answer to that obligatory Mobile World Congress question: “Have you seen anything interesting?” Its real impact over the long term may be limited, but it was the most tangible expression of ‘new technology’ at an industry event still enjoying a love affair with the technical, often at the expense of the useable.

The 3D experience it offers is sufficiently different to attract user attention, but it is part of a first generation of 3D products which are exercises in technical experimentation rather than compelling consumer experiences in themselves.

Here are my first usage observations of the LG product:

  1. The glassless experience is different to that delivered via traditional 3D glasses. It seems flatter and the 3D effect varies significantly depending on viewing angle. Users will not feel the same sense of content reaching out of the screen to grab their attention as they have in 3D cinema.
  2. The first reaction of most users was to complain, unprompted, that they felt motion sick. Approximately 75% of people who cited it as the ‘most interesting product at MWC’ added that caveat.
  3. The speed of image capture from the 3D stereoscopic camera surprised me. I was expecting unusable latency given the processing power required, but it was sufficiently fast as to be no barrier to usage.
  4. There is wide variation in the type of 3D photos which produce meaningful results. Close-ups of several high contrast objects give an interesting sense of visual depth, whereas the 3D effect is lost in busy landscape shots.
  5. LG has implemented 3D at the application level only – the handset is by no means designed around the 3D capabilities – it feels like an extra feature rather than an integrated part of the experience.
  6. 3D content consumption will not be the main driver for this technology. Widespread adoption will only come if 3D can be used to deliver entirely new services uniquely enabled by the use of visual depth. It will also require similar advances in other sensory dimensions, such as touch and hearing. Visual 3D accompanied by a 2D soundscape, or silence, doesn’t feel right.
  7. Interacting with a 3D screen through a flat, 2D surface is unnatural. As highlighted in MEX Pathway #4, advances in 3D display will need to be accompanied by similar advances in 3D input mechanisms (e.g. gestures and pressure sensing).

MEX Pathway #4, entitled ‘Identify ways 3D can enrich the user experience with visual depth‘ continues to be a focus and will be further examined at the next MEX event in London on 4th – 5th May 2011.

I’d be very interested to hear observations on the user experience from others experimenting with 3D, both with and without glasses. Please post a comment to the blog below.

1 comment - join the debate

  1. Marek Pawlowski replied:

    I’d be very interested to hear observations on the user experience from others experimenting with 3D, both with and without glasses. Please post a comment to the blog below.

    February 18th, 2011 at 6:12 pm. Permalink.

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About the author
Marek Pawlowski Marek Pawlowski is the founder of MEX. Since 1995, he has focused the MEX business on helping digital industries to develop better, more profitable products through improved understanding of user behaviour with mobile devices and wireless networks. MEX is best known for its events, research and consulting, which balance commercial, technical and user insights to define the future of mobile user experience. Web http://www.pmn.co.uk/mex/ | Email mp@pmn.co.uk
Posted on
18 February 2011
Categories
MWC 2011
Pathway #4: Enriching UX with 3D & visual depth