Seasickness isn’t something you’d expect to find discussed in the pages of a telecoms news tomb, but the effects that cause that queasy feeling at sea are very relevant to 3D displays.
Hundreds of consumers that bought Nintendo’s 3D-endowed 3DS portable games console claim using the device makes them feel nauseous, with dizzy spells and headaches the main gripes. Some users said the effects were almost instantaneous, coming after only a few minutes using the device, according to the UK’s Daily Mail newspaper.
The feedback makes for worrying reading for smartphone makers preparing to launch their own 3D-enabled handsets, specifically LG Electronics, which demonstrated the world’s first smartphone with a 3D display at the Mobile World Congress in February.
Indeed, our man John Tanner has already commented on the fact that the display on LG’s device – the Optimus 3D, due 2Q – induces a dizzying effect “[T]he 3D effect seems to go wobbly to the eyes…it’s like watching a 3D film that makes you dizzy,” he noted after trialing the device.
Tanner noted that a 3D chipset from Movidius fares better, with more refined depth cues and, crucially, a less dizzying feeling “where parts of the screen go wobbly.”
To understand the Nintendo effect, you must first understand a little of what causes seasickness. In that instance the senses get mixed up – your eyes may register calm seas, but your sense of balance sends a different message to the brain, resulting in a sensation of nausea.
The screen problem is, essentially, the same. Your eyes are designed to process two slightly different images, but the 3D screens force pictures with too many variations for our onboard processors – or brains as we like to call them -, which results in the dizzy feeling.
Handset makers need to be aware of the problem before jumping on the 3D bandwagon, but there is another reason 3D in mobile devices needs work. At present, the displays can only work without special glasses if viewed from exactly the right angle. Move slightly off kilter and you’ll revert to a dodgy-looking 2D image.
Sitting still to use a portable games device is one thing, but doing so while trying to use a mobile phone rather misses the point of those devices.