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No joke: 3D contact lenses
The 3D boom just gets weirder and weirder: First it was 3D sunglasses; now, even 3D contact lenses are set to enter production. Televisions.com writer Ulrich von Loehneysen is on the case.
February 5, 2010 — Soon, 3D glasses that double up as trendy sunglasses will hit the market, courtesy of manufacturer RealD. But until now, contact lenses that allowed 3D viewing had been something of a joke. Lo and behold, plans to that effect are now under way: Oliver Pasch, Sony’s Head of Digital Cinema Europe, mentioned this during a discussion with Patrick Schappert from German web portal Grobi.tv. When asked for further information, Pasch said he could only confirm that such products are in the pipeline.
We can be certain that the contact lenses will only be suitable for a certain type of 3D cinema — namely that using circular polarisation, which is used with many DLP projectors as well as with Sony installations (see also 3D Technologies for Cinema and TV). It’s possible to use contact lenses in this way because circular polarisation filters don’t depend on the eye’s position; the viewer can turn their head to any angle, unlike with the vertical/horizontal filters occasionally used in Imax cinemas, for example. In theory, it would also be possible to produce contact lenses for Dolby 3D, whereas so-called “Xpand” technology uses active shutter glasses that require a power supply, and which can’t therefore be used in the same way.
RealD lenses are also unsuitable for the 3D TVs soon to hit the market: Although most of the big manufacturers have secured contracts with RealD, their initial series of 3D TVs will all use shutter glasses. It remains to be seen, in fact, how practical the idea of 3D contact lenses actually is. In any case, viewers will need to remember to take out their 3D lenses before driving home at night, since they reduce the brightness of incoming light by more than half — as do all types of 3D glasses.