Call the whole 3D
craze nothing more than a hyped up gimmick if you will (and maybe you're right), but if that's the case, this is shaping up to be one of the most lucrative gimmicks in recent times. According to the number crunchers over at NPD Group's Retail Tracking Service, Americans have spent over $55 million on 3D-capable televisions and Blu-ray
players in the first three months since these products launched in February.
"3D TV and Blu-ray players are seeing steady growth even as major product line launches are slated for the coming months," said Ross Rubin, executive director of industry analysis at NPD. "As more consumers adopt 3D, the industry can help foster a 3D ecosystem similar to that of HD."
No matter what your feeling is on 3D, that's a lot of dough, and it's easy to see why manufacturers are so eager to push the fad further into the mainstream. This is made even more impressive when you consider that today's 3D landscape still requires that viewers don a pair of dorky looking glasses, which the NPD Group identified as a possible inhibitor to the adoption of 3D. Interestingly, it's not that users feel self-conscious when wearing 3D glasses, as only 10 percent of consumers in a recent NPD survey citing "looking silly" as a main concern. Instead, the biggest concern -- as evidenced by 41 percent of respondents -- is not having enough glasses on hand to accommodate everyone.
This may be a short-term problem, however. Several companies are already working on glasses-free 3D displays, such as the one that will be used in Nintendo's upcoming 3DS handheld console. On a larger scale, Microsoft has developed
a new type of wedge-shaped lens capable of directing light and is purportedly easy to integrate into LCD displays. By adding a camera, the display is then able to track viewers and project a stereoscopic image right to their eyes without the need for glasses.
In this early state, the technology only supports a limited number of viewers, and it requires advances in LCD technology to really shine. Still, we're probably not all that far off from a viable glass-free 3D display.