One of the most common complaints that I hear about 3DTV is that people won’t wear 3D glasses in order to watch TV. I’m not so sure that’s true. Let me paint an alternative view for you. Let’s start with the fact that if I asked you 15 years ago whether or not you’d be willing to carry around a portable phone with you wherever you went, you’d almost certainly would say no. Back then, they were bookbag devices with heavy batteries, limited range, and lousy sound quality. And if I had asked at the same time whether you’d be more interested if it was also a computer, it probably would not have changed your mind. Of course, now we have millions of people carrying smart phones that are power telephones and computers that are also always (or almost always) connected to the Internet. What I’m proposing is a similar change in how you view the concept of “3D goggles”.
Here’s a picture of a product that you can buy today; it’s a pair of sunglasses that is also an MP3 player with 2 GB of storage capacity. Now, I’m not saying that these are the finest example of stylish eyewear, but they are a step up from the giant headgear that you often get for 3D goggles these days, especially the active shutter type that you will need for home 3DTV. So imagine that the glasses were something you might find attractive if this particular design doesn’t excite you.
The active glasses use LCD panels to block or transmit the light. They can also partially block the light. This means that they could serve as sunglasses, and they would change from dark to light in an instant (instead of the slow change with the photosensitive glasses you can buy now). As a result, these could serve as your sunglasses. With a corrective prescription, they could be the sole pair of glasses that you wear, indoors or out.
Okay, now the glasses here play MP3s. That’s fine as it goes, but let’s imagine that it can also get radio signals. Not just radio station transmissions (which would be nice) but maybe Bluetooth as well. Now, your cell phone can stay in your pocket or on your belt, and you’ll always be wearing your phone headset. Add a button or two and some voice recognition commands, and you’re in business.
This requires power, but there are lots of power-scavenging technologies being developed that can use heat, light, or motion to recharge your glasses. Let’s imagine that it powers up when you put them on, and shuts off automatically when you take them off, and never needs to be plugged in to recharge. That’s pretty convenient. And finally, if you’re ever in range of a 3D display — either at home or work or at the local mall — it will automatically go into shutter mode so that you can see the 3D images.
I contend that this could result in an accessory that you would find so useful that you’d put it on first thing in the morning, and not take it off until you go to bed at night. Like cell phones, it could acquire additional functions that we haven’t even realized that we’d want, which would make it even more useful. I can imagine a future where millions of people would wear these all day, every day. Who knows, maybe they’ll even be called “iGlasses“.