A 3D Vision Health Update

Len Scrogan transparent3D and Vision Health – Several times a year I provide an update for our readers on 3D vision health issues. The pervasive myth that 3D is somehow bad for us, and our children, is a stubborn one. 

eyesFor that reason, we need constant reminders and fresh talking points. The release of the American Optometric Association’s seminal report on 3D vision health, See Well, Learn Well, went a long way to dispel some of these myths, but the misinformation challenge still persists. Here’s our latest 3D vision health update, including some careful warnings.

NJIT Continues Research

There’s good information coming out of the New Jersey Institute of Technology these days. I am seeing interesting NJIT research, published dissertations and experimental work focusing on using 3D in both diagnosis and treatment of visual disorders. NJIT seems to be a hotbed of enlightenment in this arena. See this link to learn more.

Right in Front of Our Eyes

The graduate students of the University of Washington-Bothell have developed their own child vision health project, now transforming into a November 8th (2014) full-day symposium entitled: “How Undetected Vision Issues Impact Student Learning.” This is an interesting project, one that suggests that 30% of certain low-income children groups experience vision health issues. Of course, modern 3D technologies sit at the nexus of diagnosis and treatment of the often hard-to-find vision challenges of children. And vision health is a strong determiner of successful learning.

Whacking the Perennial Zombies

ZombieSome pesky vision health zombies just won’t die. I place these unwanted zombies into two categories: lessons we have forgotten or somehow unlearned; and lessons not yet learned.

Forgotten Lessons. At all major conferences I have attended since the spring, I see the same thing. Many exhibitors still don’t know how to show stereo 3D, auto-stereoscopic 3D, or 4K without causing nausea or discomfort. I have a higher tolerance than most, yet many 4K and 3D displays in these exhibit halls are upsetting to watch. Haven’t we learned our lesson yet? Just because the technology moves to mobile, auto-stereoscopic, virtual reality goggles, 4K or UHD display and beyond doesn’t mean vision issues just ‘disappear’. Would we rather have customers wince and hurry away – or stop, savor, and inquire? That’s the bottom line. It’s all about the content, plainly. On the other hand, LG, Christie, zSpace, AVRover, DesignMate, Cyber-Anatomy, CubeDigico and several other hardware/content manufacturers really know what they are doing. They push their video content out to passers-by in a slower “savoring” mode, which is particularly appealing to the educational customer. Showing furious rollercoaster rides, wild river rapid trips, or spiraling, head-turning motion is simply crazy. That sort of content conveys a hidden biological message to customers that the technology is somehow not ready for prime time.

Lessons Not Yet Learned. Over the last year, I have met with many leaders in nascent 3D industry – especially with many of the innovators bringing new products, displays and solutions to the U.S. or Eurasian market. My experience thus far is that they are largely unaware of the seminal AOA work found in See Well, Learn Well. Display and content technologists cannot expect success if they are oblivious to vision health issues. And most innovators new to the 3D scene don’t have a satisfactory answer to the educator or consumer with the concern that “this gives me headaches” or “will this hurt my children?” (The common responses are dismissive: “don’t let those children use the technology”; or “there is no problem at all”.)

Just because 3D virtual reality headgear is cool, or autostereoscopic 3D content is eye-popping, or 4K is so lifelike, that doesn’t make it impervious to what we know about the vision challenges of children or customers.  The vision issue didn’t just go away with the advent of the next big technology. The takeaway here is your company will never sell 3D or other advanced display technologies well unless you also handle this vision health issue well. You can start by reading or re-reading See Well, Learn Well-Len Scrogan