3-D TV Gets Touchy UI, but Brits Not Interested in 3-D Tech at All

3-D TV

Bad news for the burgeoning 3-D industry: Only 2% of British consumers want to buy a 3-D TV, according to a new survey. Could a "touchable" 3-D user interface help the technology's appeal?

Of 4,200 British consumers interviewed for a Deloitte study, only 89 said they were thinking of spending on a 3-D HDTV set in the next year. Even splitting out the older age groups (who may be less enthused about the next new big thing) and concentrating on the 25- to 34-years olds, this figure only rises to 5%.

This is slightly surprising if all you're considering is the rush by seemingly every manufacturer to push out 3-D capable TV sets. But remember: The HDTV "revolution" is still new, with the price of reasonably sized LCD TVs only falling to a level that would tempt the average consumer over the last year or two. If you're not in a higher income bracket, and you've only just bought your new TV in the last several years, you're not going to be interested in replacing it so soon. Even if you're in a medium-upper income bracket, you're likely to have plopped down a big chunk of cash for a bigger, better, faster HDTV and may well be reluctant to ditch that investment just to latch on to the next big phenomenon.

And this raises an interesting question—even while TV makers are scrambling to produce 3-D TVs, this phenomenon is not going to peak in terms of user experience for several years. By then it'll likely be an added bonus to a TV set, rather than a big buyer-draw all by itself. The fact you need glasses to see the effect on most TVs may well be playing into this effect, though there are moves by Toshiba—and just now in the news, Sony—to produce glasses-free units.

Meanwhile, Japanese researchers have tried to add some extra sparkle to the whole notion of 3-D TV by inventing an interface, which they say is the world's first, that lets users manipulate images on-screen almost as if they were touching them. Scientists at the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology contend that the interface, which works using cameras something like Microsoft's Kinect system, gives you a sensation of actually feeling the objects you're manipulating. And this makes us wonder if this sort of tech, in next-gen gaming consoles hooked up to 3-D TVs, may be one of the drivers that actually gets the TVs into consumers' homes.

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  • Nate O'Shaughnessey

    I agree with the timing.
    only 2-5% of buyers were planning to buy a 3D tv in the coming year?
    what percent of buyers were planning on buying a big TV (>$1,000) at all, that might even have considered a 3D tv in the coming year. People might buy a new big screen every what, 5years or so? and like you said, many people will have just recently done that with the price of HD's coming down just in the past year or two. I would estimate that maybe 15% give or take were even considering buying a new big screen TV anyway, so having a quarter or so of those say that they were planning to buy a 3D tv, is a fairly decent market share in my opinion. It wont' be a complete sweep of the market, like HD has done, because as other articles have pointed out, HD is better than non-HD in every aspect, it's a direct replacement upgrade. 3D does offer a great viewing experience, but it's not a direct replacement for non 3D tv's in many cases. Think superbowl parties with 20 people, are they all supposed to bring glasses, or is the host going to have that many pairs (at $100+) ? Many instances like that and others mean that it will not be a sweeping replacement technology, even though it may offer a better viewing experience.
    I do think it will catch on, and be around in people's homes and was a good investment for companies, but they do need to be realistic with their marketing and realize its probably not going to take over the entire market, but rather create a new sub-market that will probably take some share of the bigger market, but will not be replacing it.

    I think it will catch on, but not today, or tomorrow, it'll be a slow implementation, and not as sweeping. Normal HD flat panel TV's will be around for while in my opinion with their own incremental innovations.

    Then there is the fact that what people say they are planning to buy and what they actually buy aren't always the same. You might as well take a survay that asks what percentage of people are good at estimating their time for a various task, 80% will say they are accurate, but 80% are usually not. Studies baed on intention or self-observation are hardly reliable.