Opinion is (sharply) divided on whether the surge of activity in 3D technology and media is just a fad, or the way of the future.We suspect the truth is somewhere in the boring middle: the current hysteria will die down a little, but the trend towards more 3D content will continue. 3D content will become more common, but plain old 2D movies, for instance, aren’t going anywhere.
But whether it’s a fad or a revolution, there is no denying that there is a huge surge of activity in 3D. In both Hollywood and Silicon Valley, people are spending a lot of time, effort, and money on 3D.
The consensus is that Nintendo stole the show at last week's E3 video game event, mostly on the strength of its new handheld, the 3DS.
Unlike most of the 3D tech on the way, Nintendo opted for autostereoscopic technology -- a fancy way of saying you don't need to wear funny glasses. The device can also take 3D pictures.
Nintendo's DS is the second-best selling gaming device of all time (after the PlayStation 2) and a huge part of Nintendo's business.
The PlayStation 3 has always been a powerful enough piece of hardware for 3D, but most people assumed that the big push for 3D gaming would come with the next generation of consoles, at the earliest.
But Sony is pushing 3D very hard, and right away. The company is even bundling 3D PS3 games with some of its 3D televisions.
There isn't much use for a 3D Blu-ray player just yet, but given that 2.7 million people bought the 2D Avatar Blu-ray in its first week (to use as a coaster?), we're pretty confident the nascent standard will have its first hit when Avatar 3D comes out.
The number of movie theatres that can show movies in digital 3D is growing rapidly, but for now, its a serious constraint on how many films can be widely released at once.
Hollywood studios, eager to recreate some of Avatar's record-breaking success, aren't letting that stop them from flooding the market with 3D releases.
Google acqui-hired a team focused exclusively on 3D user-interfaces.
Google will spend a few million on just about anything, but at least someone there thinks 3D is going to be important for Android or Chrome.
Major media companies are launching 3D television channels, even though hardly anyone can watch them yet
ESPN just launched its 3D network to coincide with the beginning of the World Cup. Another 3D channel is on the way from Discovery, Sony, and IMAX.
These are serious investments, that aren't close to justifiable on the strength of the few 3D televisions already out there.
Sony says it expects 3D-enabled television sales to account for 30-50% of all its HDTV sales by 2012.
That's certainly aggressive, but all the major television manufacturers are going full steam ahead with 3D.
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