“Those goofy glasses.” It’s one of the biggest stumbling blocks for 3DTV with many consumers, and I can’t blame them. Many of the active shutter glasses look like something out of a 50s science fiction B movie. And the passive glasses that you get in the movie theaters make Buddy Holly and Elvis Costello’s eyewear look stylish.
But CES 2011 is full of new ideas for glasses. (No, the show doesn’t open until today, but after two days of press events, I’ve seen a lot of new approaches.) On the shutter glass front, it’s clear that some manufacturers still don’t get it. Sony offers a range of sizes and colors, but they all look like they could double as snorkeling goggles. In contrast, XPAND has improved its line of “universal” shutter glasses that work with all 3DTVs and projectors on the market today. The newest XPAND YOUNIVERSAL models are programmable, so that you can tune them to your individual preferences, such as changing the settings for “dark time” and “transition time”. You can make adjustments for viewing distance, your age, and other factors. And they come in different sizes and with different nose pieces to accomodate different facial features.
Perhaps the most impressive demonstration of new shutter glasses was by Samsung, which showed a sleek, stylish model that weighs only one ounce.
On the passive glasses side, Marchon 3D announced a new patent for curved lenses, which gets away from that flat-lens bug-eyed look that you get with the typical cinema glasses. They have various models starting at $35 a pair, but also have designer lines including some by Calvin Klein. They even offer photochromatic lenses that get darker in the sunlight, so that you can use the same 3D glasses as your sunglasses. And you will even be able to get them with prescription lenses so you’ll only have to wear one pair when watching 3D.
I believe that all these improvements are slowly going to wear away at the average consumer’s resistance. Price and appearance are improving rapidly, and that’s after only selling about a million sets in this country in 2010. As the numbers climb — and they will climb — the competition to sell the glasses will result in more improvements and even lower costs.