Alone Together: Is Split Screen TV a Good Idea?

Conventional wisdom has it that television remains a group activity. We are rapidly being assimilated by our personal mobile devices, and I often see two people together who are both busy texting or Facebooking or whatever on their smartphones. Then I read a blog entry by some DisplaySearch analysts that describe a new “smart dual view” technology from Samsung.

All this does is take a standard stereoscopic 3DTV, and set the shutter glasses so that both eyes see one frame at a time. This lets you have two people in the same room watching two different programs at the same time. The article doesn’t mention that each person would also need to be wearing headphones so that they only hear the soundtrack for their program.

This isn’t all that new. It’s really just a variation of the scheme that let video gamers see their player’s view in a full screen, without being able to “peek” at what their opponent is seeing. But I’m concerned about the idea of using it to “duplex” video content in the living room. Why bother with the big screen at all? For less money, you can each buy your own screen and then retire to your own personal corner or cave to watch whatever you want. No more fighting over the remote. No more negotiating about how we’ll watch one of “your” shows and then watch one of “my” shows. And no more having to talk to each other while you skip over the commercials.

I get it. Samsung is grasping at straws to find new ways to market the 3DTV technology until we get enough 3D content to make consumers want it for its original purpose. But I really don’t think that isolating people even more is the right solution.

What do you think? Send me an email at alfred@hdtvprofessor.com or a tweet to @AlfredPoor, and let me know if this is a good idea.