Let’s get one fact out straight away: Television is not bad for your health. Too much television, of course can lead to all sorts of problems, like any sedentary activity can, but that’s not television’s fault. As for the psychological problems of consuming too much of today’s programming, we’ll leave that argument for another day.
3D is another matter. As the format moves from the theater into private homes, some in the medical and entertainment industries are voicing health concerns over prolonged viewing of the format.
Panasonic, Samsung and Hyundai, the first manufacturers with 3DTVs on the market include viewer warnings about long-term 3D viewing, urging consumers to avoid watching the format for “multiple hours,” and to take frequent breaks, to prevent the onset of nausea or dizziness. Samsung even recommends certain viewers consult with their doctors “before using the 3D function.”
On p. 1 of the June 23 issue of TV Technology, Jay Ankeney reports on the efforts undertaken at USC’s Entertainment Technology Center and its research into the “psycho-physical” effects of long-term 3D viewing. Researchers at the institute’s Consumer 3D Experience Lab are homing in on the concept of the “vergence accommodation conflict” which examines the discrepancies between how viewers view the real world and the 3D world and how such differences can lead to visual fatigue.
One could argue that such research probably should have been done prior to the market launch of 3DTV; others note that so little content is currently available that concerns may be overblown and that 3DTV is currently better known as an untested, potentially overhyped product. Hype or not, health issues should not be overlooked when it comes to bringing 3D out of the theater, where the ambience for viewing 3D is controlled—and into the home, where lighting, location, and length of viewing time are not. “The Real Housewives of Orange County” may make some of us nauseous, but it shouldn’t be 3D’s fault.
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