Recent Report Studies User Experience with Home Use of 3D TV

By Arthur Berman
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Although stereoscopic 3D (S3D) television is now widely available in the home, little information has been published on some aspects of viewer use and experience. A recent article addresses this issue.

The study was undertaken by Jenny Read, a researcher at the Institute of Neuroscience, Newcastle University (Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK). The article is entitled “Viewer experience with stereoscopic 3D television in the home”. It was published in Displays, Volume 35, Issue 5, December 2014, Pages 252–260. The article is available on-line and can be found here.

The first point to note is that this study was conducted utilizing TVs in users’ homes. The stated aim of the study was to quantify how ordinary viewers use and experience S3D displays in daily life. The issue that the researcher wanted to address by adopting this approach is the proposition that studies conducted in a laboratory setting provide results that, although highly reliable, may have little of what the author calls “ecological validity”.  Read goes on to explain that survey-based studies, studies that ask people to recall their experience over long periods of time, may provide results that are inaccurate. The article actually includes a lengthy discussion of the merits and demerits of the various approaches to collecting information on S3D. The author represents that the current study strikes a balance between reliability and relevance to normal viewing conditions.

Highlights of the report include the following:

  • 120 people from 29 BSkyB households were given a new LG TV (10 shutter glasses based 3D, 10 passive stereoscopic 3D and 10 conventional 2D).
  • People in the test were asked to fill in daily online reports about their use of the TV for non-gaming computer activities, computer or video games, television and cinema. Questions included the time spent viewing, the type of content, the user’s enjoyment level and the occurrence of any adverse effects.
  • The test lasted for a period of eight weeks.

The report collected a large amount of data. The results were analyzed in terms of the demographics of the viewers including their age, gender, education, viewing habits and viewing time. In the report, this data was presented in easy to interpret, graphical form.

The questions asked and the data analyzed were to assess the viewer’s levels of enjoyment of 2D and S3D. The bottom line of the results of this line of questioning is that people reported enjoying 3D TV and cinema more than 2D. People generally reported enjoying S3D video games less than 2D video games.

The questions were also aimed to assess any adverse effects associated with watching S3D. The questions were quite comprehensive in that they individually referred to blurred vision, difficulty focusing eyes, cramps, double vision, eyestrain, faintness, fatigue, fever, headache, impaired coordination, impaired balance, itching, joint pain, muscle pain, nausea, skin rash, stomach ache, tooth ache and tiredness.

An example of the kind of graphical results obtained by the author appears in the graph below.

The bottom line drawn from the results of this part of the study are that people reported slightly more (∼10%) adverse effects with 3D. Read speculates that that this may be because video games present a particularly strong conflict between vergence and accommodative demand.

In the words of the report’s author, “The picture that is emerging from this and other studies is that some people do not like S3D and even a minority report adverse effects such as headache. However, most people do not experience adverse effects with S3D. Given the opportunity, many people choose to watch S3D content at least once a week, and they tend to report that it enhances their viewing experience”. – Arthur Berman

 Institute of Neuroscience, Newcastle University, Jenny Read, +44-191-208-7559, jenny.read@ncl.ac.uk