ADOTAS – In today’s post-Avatar world, big-name and art-house directors from Martin Scorsese and Tim Burton to Werner Herzog, Wim Wenders and Baz Luhrmann are going 3D. Television is on board with 3D as well: There’s an influx of affordable 3D TVs hitting the home entertainment market, channels like ESPN3D, 3net, and SKY are screening round-the-clock 3D content, and highly-anticipated 2012 Olympic 3D broadcasts from the BBC and NBC are coming this summer. However, the true game-changer in 3D is taking place in the mobile and gaming markets,with phones, consoles, laptops, tablets and even the web as the next up-and-coming 3D frontiers.
What’s most intriguing about these new advances in 3D technology is the shift toward autostereoscopic, or glasses-free, 3D. The HTC EVO 3D, LG 3DThrill and Samsung Galaxy 3D smartphones offer consumers the opportunity to watch crystal clear 3D images from the palm of their hand. Sony’s PS3 console and Nintendo’s 3DS handheld device are allowing gamers to immerse themselves in these virtual worlds with real depth. LG’s Optimus Tablet and the new Toshiba 3D laptop are other examples of personal 3D devices currently on the market. Even Apple seems to be getting on the 3D bandwagon, having filed patents for 3D interfaces for iPhones and iPad. Will a 3D iPad change American computing culture? Once gesture tracking is added to 3D content, MinorityReport-style 3D display is not far off.
In addition to new phones and tablets that offer 3D imaging experiences, we’re also beginning to see another technological shift from professional to consumer-based 3D video creation. While professional 3D shoots use two separate cameras shooting simultaneously to mimic the experience of binocular human sight and depth perception, reasonably-priced 3D camcorders allow consumers to record left- and right-eye images at the same time without having to deal with complicated 3D rigs. Fuji, Sony, Panasonic and JVC all already have 3D camcorders on the market, and most 3D smartphones will also offer the ability to record in digital 3D. Consumers can then share their videos with the general public on YouTube’s 3D channel, launched in 2011. This means that a full-scale 3D revolution may in fact be propelled by user-generated mobile viral 3D content.
For all the talk of 3D TV sales, mobile platforms (read: smartphones and tablets) are poised to grow the 3D market faster than TV. My prediction is that in the near future, 3D technology will evolve to the point where it will allow for easy migration of 3D content between web and mobile to large screens. 3D will be both in our homes and in our hands, changing the way that advertising, television, and online content tell stories and engage viewers. Rest assured, the future of TV is more TV. It is bigger, cheaper, mobile, higher resolution and in 3D.
Bottom line: We are not getting to the Star Trek holodeck without going through stereoscopic content delivery. 3D is simply the first stepping-stone to immersive, interactive mobile content delivery.