|Why 3D Camera Technology Will Be The Future|
|Articles - Opinion & Editorials|
|Written by Olin Coles|
|Friday, 22 October 2010|
Why 3D Camera Technology Will Be The Future
Only a small portion of the world plays PC video games, but everyone looks at photos and watches movies. Soon they'll all be 3D.
To most people, the sudden industry interest in 3D technology is considered a fad. It's an eccentric marketing ploy for the fringe enthusiast, merely feeding a niche market. It's too expensive, or it's too immature, or it's too proprietary. If this has you believing the skeptics and naysayers, then 3D technology is already doomed to fail. Fortunately for entertainment enthusiasts there's a difference between pessimism and reality, and I'll use this editorial to explore the very real possibility that we'll soon live in a world based around 3D technology. Some optimists believe that 3D is already on its way to being a mainstream technology, but realists should expect it to come in phases, based on supply and product demand. I think it will begin with 3D cameras, and their byproducts: 3D photos and 3D video.
I've been spending a lot of time lately, testing 3D gaming products for Benchmark Reviews and reporting their impact on video game performance. I even wrote an entire NVIDIA 3D-Vision Multimedia Resource Guide for gamers and newcomers to world of 3D movies. As a result, I've unintentionally ignored the obvious facts: only a small portion of the world plays PC video games, but everyone looks at photos and watches movies. The irony is how closely these two segments inter-connected, thanks to products like NVIDIA's 3D Vision.
For the past two years NVIDIA have demonstrated impressive 3D special effects using nearly 500 PC video games (exactly 475 as of October 2010) with their 3D Vision platform. Of those 'fringe' enthusiasts who were early adopters, some have used 3D Vision to produce their own 3D photo albums and 3D multimedia video content. NVIDIA has also reaped the rewards of an early 3D platform that now includes more than 1,000 NVIDIA 3D Vision support devices, while recently announced options such as AMD HD3D technology launches with about ten supported devices.
So with a solid foundation of platform devices, 3D imagery is already professional requirement for present-day photographers. Digital cameras such as the Sony α NEX-5, Panasonic Lumix-G 3D, and Fujifilm FinePix REAL-3D W3 are already taking 3D photographs that impress people today, and meet the potential standard of tomorrow. Full-3D video cameras such as Panasonic's HDC-SDT750K have made three-dimension broadcasts of NASCAR events, the entire US Open Tennis tournament, PGA Golf Championship, and Masters Tournament all possible. Those are all real-world events that have already happened in 3D, proving that the day is quickly coming when events like the UFC Ultimate Fighting Championship and X-Games could also be broadcast in 3D. This all brings me back to the central thesis of this editorial, which is that we'll soon be watching movies and viewing images in 3D.
We already know there's a strong consumer interest in 3D effects, or else Avatar, Clash of the Titans, and Resident Evil 5 would not have been featured in 3D at movie theaters across the nation. I've established that the platform to capture and record 3D media already exists in 3D cameras, and they're presently being used in high-level professional environments. 3D-DVD and 3D Blu-ray Disc playback is possible on dozens of different players, while NVIDIA 3D Vision and AMD HD3D enables video content playback on PC devices. While 120Hz 3D-Ready monitors account for only a dozen or so models, there are over fifty 3D HDTV models currently in production. But people don't want to buy special eyewear to enjoy 3D movies, especially if they already require prescription glasses. So here comes the clincher: eyewear is optional on the Toshiba Regza GL1 3D HDTV.
This is how the 3D revolution will begin. Toshiba's Regza GL1 3D HDTV is only the start of things to come, and proves 3D won't always require eyewear. Using special perpendicular lenticular sheets to create nine parallax image layers, the need for 3D glasses is eliminated. While still in the pre-production stages of development, this technology could create an age of 3D-capable displays of every sort or device. Imagine having 3D built-in to every product you own with an LCD screen, big or small. Beyond the HDTV and monitor segments it's already destined for, it could one day extend to digital photo frames, phones, and touch controls. Thinking big, 3D digital signage and large format 3D billboards could also be a vision of the future.
Once perpendicular lenticular LCD technology becomes affordable, and can scale to much larger display sizes, you'll know that 3D is on its way to mainstream. That day will be upon us sooner than we think. Once this happens, the growing demand of 3D consumers will finally be met with supply. Tagging friends on whatever social media website rules the day will take on a whole new meaning, since the images will be 3D format and you'll see depth on everything digital. Watching movies or television in 3D won't be "a fad" anymore, because it will have become the standard. The niche market will transform into the general market, and in the same way we've seen LCD technology replace CRT, we'll see 3D technology replace 2D. It's happening right now, and my predictions will be reality before you know it.
Does this editorial make a convincing argument in favor of 3D technology? You're welcome to leave comments below.