3D Public Health Benefit Could Help Industry

AT&T chucks ESPN 3D off its system. Discovery’s CEO says consumers are embracing 3D TV slower than expected.

Well, of course. Look what they say ...

It causes lightheadedness, nausea, confusion and worse. Pregnant women are at risk. Kids won’t be able to get into Harvard.

Check that: actually, 3D TV can be good for you. And media companies may be missing a marketing opportunity.

An industry event this week had a keynote panel that at first glance looked rather banal. There was an executive from Sony and one from BSkyB no doubt set to bring the tired message that 3D TV and movies would soon transform entertainment.

Curiously, though, the third panelist was from the American Optometric Association (AOA). Ah ha, he would spice things up by taking it to the Sony and BSkyB guys. Look, what you are doing to people!

Instead, Dr. Michael Duenas, the Chief Public Health Officer at the AOA was there to say how 3D media can be an important tool in diagnosing an array of eye conditions.



“Without being aware of it, the 3D industry has actually created the world’s best vision screening,” he said in an interview later.

If a person doesn’t enjoy a 3D movie, Dr. Duenas said, it may not be because the characters or plot. Feelings of dizziness, other discomfort or trouble with depth perception could be due to a “binocular vision disorder,” which doesn’t allow “your eyes to capture images in the way your brain can put them together.”

Enter 3D content's diagnostic benefits. A bad experience with a “Shrek” film in the theater or the USC-California game on ESPN 3D, could drive someone into an optometrist's office. A grandparent noticing one child liked the film and another didn’t might seek help.

Dr. Duenas hopes an AOA report about kids, 3D and vision might raise public awareness.

“We’re going to get people bringing children and other people to the doctor because 3D elicited a symptom and ... then we’ll be able to find out what the problem is earlier and treat it,” he said.

Where is Nickelodeon 3D?

On the flip side, an optometrist might advise patients who have OK vision, but could be at risk of some deterioration to check out 3D films or TV from time to time.

Hollywood could be saying thanks, doc. If they enjoy the show, they might come back.

The AOA is working with the 3D@Home Consortium on some initiatives. The group, which looks to bring 3D into the home and improve the production quality, counts Discovery, IMAX and Sony (partners on 3Net) as members.

Dr. Duenas does believe the theater is a better place to diagnose vision issues than watching 3D TV because there is a sort of controlled environment.

He said there have been conversations that could lead to PSAs in theaters. It would seem 3D TV networks might want to go the same route.

After all, Dr. Duenas said it’s to their benefit: the more people who can enjoy 3D probably means more people will view 3D.

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