3D technology arrives, experiences remain elusive

LG’s new Android device with a glassless 3D display and stereoscopic 3D camera is the most obvious and tangible sign of technological advancement in handset portfolios at MWC. However, it is very much a technical innovation and is yet to enable any genuinely new 3D experiences.

Qualcomm is also showing an impressive technical demo, using a prototype smartphone running its dual core Snapdragon chipset to encode a stereoscopic video feed and display it in real time on a large television. Users can stand in front of the screen and watch themselves in 3D. The utility of this particular demo may be low, but it provides direct evidence of just how much potential there is in the vast processing power now available on mobile devices.

The LG device has been the most widely discussed in Barcelona, but it is worth noting people’s initial wonder is balanced by an equal concern over the sense of motion sickness induced by the glassless 3D display.

The same concern has already been identified in MEX Pathway #4. The ongoing Pathway process and most recent MEX event discovered natural human sight, despite frequently being described as 3D, is actually closer to a 2D visual experience. Our experience of the 3D world comes from physical exploration rather than sight. It is therefore likely the most compelling 3D experiences will begin with 3D input rather than 3D output mechanisms.

This should also drive more creative thinking about how 3D technology can be used to create genuinely new experiences, going beyond the consumption of 3D content. Human processes which are inherently 3D could benefit from this, such as search, social communications and emotive expression.


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  1. 2
    Jason DaPonte

    I agree with all of the above; but think there’s another important factor to consider: Consumers just don’t LOVE any of the glassless 3D that’s out there.

    Having asked many users about experiences on any of the small-screen devices, no one says “I love it.” More often the response is along the lines of “It’s neat; but not great yet.”

    As Hollywood and the entertainment industry push 3D with glasses on the big screen and provide a high-quality, engaging experience, providing an inferior experience on the small screen will be just that – inferior.

    If the mobile industry wants to bring 3D to the small screen, it needs to provide technology that’s up to making users love it. From what I’ve seen so far, that just isn’t there yet.

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