You heard it before, in the 1950s, in the 1970s, and as recently as two years ago. 3D was going to transform the media landscape and free us from the shackles of monoscopicism.
Then what happened? As it turns out, not much - or plenty, depending on your point of view.
While the public balks and Sony and Panasonic lick their wounds from their largely ineffective efforts to enthuse the public about 3D, we are seeing the swirling dust of the next great development about to burst onto the scene, and amazingly, incredibly, it’s 3D again.
Not 3D as you know it
To be sure we’re NOT talking about theatrical 3D this time. That ship has sailed, and by almost all accounts it’s teetering and leaking water. If current trends continue and the major studios adhere to their current thinking 3D feature films will account for no more than 10% of industry releases by 2015. Compare that to over half of all studio product in 2011, which means any way you slice it, converge it, or horizontally translate it, 3D for the cinema is rapidly becoming a non-issue.
Notwithstanding the loss of public appetite for 3D movies and broadcast programming the next 3D go-around will be much more virulent and far-reaching. Arriving almost certainly in 2013, the impending 3D wave will impact a broad swath of industrial users, from corporate and educational applications, weddings and events, to remote learning, tourism, and short-form entertainment like music videos and eventually episodic television. The catalyst for this non-theatrical transformation boils down to a single product taking shape in the cauldrons of Cupertino.
The advent of the 3D iPad will utterly and completely transform the prospects and business of 3D. Look around. The depth cues are numerous and convincing. Current generation iPads and iPhones with their high-speed processors, lightning fast refresh rates, and ridiculously bright retina displays, all point to one thing: these machines are being groomed for glasses-free 3D viewing on a massive worldwide scale. Add to these clues the recent pivots and turns in Apple TV, and rumored widespread acquisition of 3D assets for the iTunes store, and we can draw the logical conclusion: an imminent, sudden, and dramatic upsurge in demand for 3D content in 2013, as tens of millions of stereo viewing devices flood the market within a month or two of these products’ introductions.
Looking ahead to next year’s resurgence the 3D fire in tablets has already been set aglow.
3D tablets are on their way
The Korean company NEO3DO recently announced an autostereoscopic (glasses-free) 3D tablet with an eight–inch screen for shipping in January. It will be just a matter of months before Apple makes its own announcement. And when it does this latest 3D wave will begin anew, and this time it will be real.
Understand that I have no direct knowledge of Apple intending to release a 3D iPad, iPhone, or anything else. If I did Apple might hunt me down, tie a pair of cast iron Lisa computers to my feet, and toss me in the Sacramento River.
Still, undeniably, if you look at the evidence using both eyes the stereo writing is on the wall. This time 3D is for real and you can take that to the bank. Just be sure to leave your 3D glasses. You won’t be needing them.