3D signage still needs work


The few times I have seen 3D signage have been less than excited experiences. Without exception, it has struck me as having a short-term attention-getting factor, but no sustainability because the image quality was not very good and the content was kind of, umm, useless.

Seeing a product spinning, sort of, in mid-air is cool for about five seconds. Then it is just a thing spinning, sort of, in mid-air.

A piece in Display Daily reports back from a 3D conference and gives a lukewarm opinion on the whole thing.

The writer says the potential for this technology is there, but there are some big challenges – notably the cost of producing 3D and the availability of resources to do it, and do it well.

He also noted some specific technical issues:

“Even at trade shows dedicated to 3D, I have seen demos that are of poor quality or even set up incorrectly. If the people who are trying to sell 3D can’t configure it properly or create compelling demos, that’s a problem.

Case in point. Autostereoscopic 3D displays are ones that do not require glasses to see the 3D effect. To do this, the technology requires that you trade off image resolution in order to enable multiple viewing zones across a fairly wide field of view. One clear lesson with using such displays is to limit content to low resolution images such as icons or larger graphic elements.

At S-3D, I saw one demo that was showing SD resolution video on an autostereoscopic display. As expected, the video was so compromised it looked like it was out of focus. Also, the viewing zones were so narrow that it was difficult to find and keep the image in full stereo.

Other demos showed large rainbow patterns and similar difficulties in visually acquiring the image. Another common mistake is to reverse the left and right images when coupled to the polarization filtering glasses. This creates a stereo image, but it looks funny and will create eye strain. How can manufacturers ensure this doesn’t happen? There are no standards or methods that I know of.

And, 3D needs to recreate, as much as possible, the way we see the world. You can not see stereo pairs when looking at objects beyond 50 feet or so, so don’t try to add dimension to these long distance shots – it looks wrong. And, when moving your head laterally around a stereo display, don’t maintain the same object orientation as you move. That’s not how it works in the real world. Finally, making objects jump out at you may work in a theme park 3D experience, but not if you want to use the 3D display for extended periods.

The bottom line: while we have to solve the technology part, we can’t sell the technology to the consumer. It’s about the application. Let’s stop being obsessed with the technology and focus on making the applications for the technology work. Once it is easy to use and offers a clear benefit over 2D, 3D will be adopted. But let’s not be too over-anxious to roll out 3D systems either. Bad implementations create a poor impression and a backlash that could take years, maybe decades to reverse.”

This is really the same issue facing our industry in general. Just because a company hangs a big-ass screen in a public area doesn’t mean everyone within eyesight will stop what they are doing and stare adoringly at it. If the content is not interesting or relevant, those eyeballs are gone.

A 3D piece might make people stop and look once, and say something quietly like, “Huh…” And that’s going to be pretty much the end of it.

Producing high quality content for this space is already a big cost. I wonder how many will invest yet more dollars to make it 3D.

Explore posts in the same categories: Opinion, Sightings

3 Comments on “3D signage still needs work”

  1. Steve Yetsko Says:

    I have seen various 3d displays. I find some really lacking. I strongly agree that Bad implementations could cause a backlash against the whole Idea of 3D.

    The best 3D I’ve seen thus far is from Magnetic Media in NYC. I visited their lower manhattan office and had a hard time keeping my eyes off the screen. (anyone that knows me knows that how important I think it is to have screens that can actually get people to LOOK AT them rather than just walk by them)

    Tom Zerega CEO of magnetic media is a big proponent of doing it right with 3D.

  2. Louis-David Mangin Says:

    Magnetic Media’s 3D come from NewSight i believe.

  3. First,

    Louis-David Mangin doesn’t have a clue. Newsight, a horrible company used Barrier Technology. Magnetic uses lenticular technology. Lenticular is a lot sharper.

    Next, The zone issue. On screens 24″ and smaller, there is an answer to the zone issue in the works. One company already has it working in a prototype and another is 2 months away doing the same thing.

    As for the larger models that are 42″ and larger, the zone issue is here to stay for awhile.

    You spoke of content being poor. An understatement to say the least. Content is King and when we have 6D, content will still be KING.

    The biggest mistakes I see is that the 3D autostereoscopic content is created mostly by techies with a little artsy background.

    Duh…..Creative Director……..Duh……….Computer Artist……Duh……Layering Person…..or the computer artist that also has the layering skills.

    And guess what? keep it simple. 8 million layers of ghosting. What are we selling? Where’s the product? Simple, slick and elegant. That’s what will get the eyeballs. Slow moving 3D.

    I’m calm now. Don’t get me wrong. I love 3D. Hollywood loves 3D. It’s going to get better faster than most people think, or, there will be a better way of doing it all together. Some kid in the MIT Media Lab is probably playing around with it as we speak.

    Thanks for letting me express my views.

    Rich Pincus
    The 3rd Dimension

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