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Originally featured on BroadcastEngineering.com
May 7

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5/7/2010 12:58 PM  RssIcon

Three-dimensional TV is being introduced into the marketplace with very few short-term studies and no long-term studies about the technology’s effect on the health of viewers.

Last month, Samsung issued a warning about possible health effects associated with 3-D TV, including altered vision, lightheadedness and even stroke or epileptic seizure. Researchers from the University of California, Berkeley and the University of Washington have published papers that found that visual disparities in 3-D TV images can put physical strain on viewers.

Many questions remain regarding the one-size-fits all approach that has to be taken for mass audiences to enjoy the 3-D experience, Jannick Rolland, a professor at the University of Central Florida’s School of Optics, told EETimes. Rolland is known as a pioneer in virtual reality studies.

Rolland said those unanswered questions include: Can the 3-D glasses accommodate an interocular distance between eyes that is much less or more than average? Will adaptation to visual disparities interfere with vision after a movie? Will extended exposure permanently change brain functions in unsupervised children who watch for hours on end?

To find out the answers to these questions, some labs are already doing research. However, the TV industry is racing forward with the technology, assuming any health issues will be minor.

The University of Southern California Entertainment Technology Center will research reports from consumers regarding adverse reactions in the coming year as 3-D TV sets enter the marketplace. Engineering refinements to 3-D technology, however, could be required if even a small percentage of users suffer from health problems related to viewing.

“I think it will be safe,” Rolland told the magazine. “It’s challenging, but I think developers are on the right track; it’s just a matter of finding the best implementation. 3-D TV is such a fantastic technology that it is going to succeed, but you are using your eyes in a different way than you do in the real world; you are focusing and converging your eyes at different locations, which could put a strain on your eyes if the system is not well-implemented.”

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