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So it’s official - Samsung has dumped 3D televisions (see cnet). Clearly, if the world’s largest TV manufacturer has dumped 3D, it’s because there wasn’t much of a market for them.

Now, I’m no ‘prophet of doom’, but I predicted this would happen years ago on the basis that the user experience of using 3D TVs is, well, awful! And, to me this fact seemed so obvious that I’m surprised they really ever came to market in the first place.

In a nutshell, viewing 3D seems more hassle than it’s worth. Glasses are generally bulky and each viewer requires a pair to watch the content. So, when I was asked by someone seeking a government grant, What changes to the user experience would be required for 3D TVs to take off? my initial answer was that the technology has to change so there is no need for wearing glasses while watching 3D content.

However, I started wondering, am I right in this or is it just that the experience needs to be engaging enough to distract users from the frustrations of using the technology?

From all accounts James Cameron’s Avatar was a hit in 3D, and so are many 3D games, so does this prove that the answer may not need to be 'get rid of the glasses' but to make better content?

Unfortunately, I myself can’t view 3D content due to blindness in one eye, so I have no way to view 3D content to compare and try to answer this. And, asking this community the question is really going to be potentially too broad and opinion-based.

So, can anyone here refer me to some research into the user experience of 3D televisions? Or indeed, has anyone here conducted any firsthand research (via surveys, focus groups, etc) into this topic?

  • I love this topic. Here are a few (untested) thoughts: I agree that 3DTV was doomed to failure - There are three different 3D technologies that all rely on glasses. There are never enough glasses to include house guests to watch. They don't cater for people who wear prescriptive glasses... There are just too many problems. Until someone manages to invent glasses-free 3D that's perfectly visible from any angle, it just won't work - Even the movies seem to be moving away from it! – Andrew Martin May 18 '16 at 8:11
  • Couldn't agree more. It does seem that while people raved about Avatar that they're not really raving about many of the other 3D movies in recent times, so I suspect the content hasn't really taken advantage of this medium (although I can't verify this from personal experience). I think I remember reading somewhere that James Cameron didn't make the film when he first wanted, because the technology wasn't there to do it right, and then when it was he still spent 4yrs making it - so I guess he had 3D factored in from the outset. Perhaps the cost to do it right is still prohibitive. – Monomeeth May 19 '16 at 0:40
  • This isn't research but just my perspective. For 30+ years all I needed to do to watch TV was to look in the direction of the screen (really low barrier to entry) as soon as I'm required to buy special glasses ($50/pair), have to find them (did they fall between seat cushions), have to wear them (for 2+ hours if a movie), have to have 3D content (which there just wasn't a whole lot of)... The barrier is just way too high. If they can somehow make 3D TVs work without a need for glasses... Then I think the tech has a chance, but until then I think it is just "neat" and won't become a commodity. – scunliffe Jul 17 '16 at 14:04
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Google Scholar will list academic studies into usability, ux for 3d tv if you use the right keywords

https://scholar.google.co.uk/scholar?q=%223d+television%22+user&btnG=&hl=en&as_sdt=0%2C5&as_ylo=2008

Which leads you to articles such as http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0141938214000638

Jenny C.A. Read, Viewer experience with stereoscopic 3D television in the home, Displays, Volume 35, Issue 5, December 2014, Pages 252-260, ISSN 0141-9382, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.displa.2014.09.001.

The drawback though is that a lot of these articles are paywalled

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