Would You Buy Toshiba’s Glasses-Free 3-D Laptops?

With its new glasses-free 3-D technology, Toshiba is trying to show that 3-D is just a feature on your laptop, no different than having an HD screen, a DVD burner, or a Wi-Fi connection.

3D glasses free laptops


Will 3-D succeed? The technology has always been hindered by the viewing experience’s central component, 3-D glasses, which have been awkward and annoying to wear ever since the flimsy red-and-blue framed spectacles of yore. But with 3-D tech creating a blockbuster boom in Hollywood, everyone involved in the industry–from Sony to 50 Cent–is now focused on making 3-D glasses cool and fashionable.

Other companies though such as Apple and Toshiba are focused on making them disappear. Both companies have pushed for glasses-free 3-D technology, and this week at CES, Toshiba is showing off its latest entry to the field: glasses-free 3-D laptops.

We caught an early tech demo of the technology and must admit it’s very cool to see 3-D integrated so well with 2-D. When sitting in front of the computer, the webcam finds and follows your eyes, creating a viewing experience optimized for your gaze. If you have Avatar playing in one window, and a Word document open in another, Toshiba’s eye-tracking technology will make one part of the screen 3-D, while keeping the other parts the lesser dimension.

Although we can’t imagine that you’re dying to edit Excel files and watch Alice in Wonderland simultaneously, the seamless and glasses-free display make the tech more viable than other platforms released thus yet.


Toshiba’s glasses-free 3-D laptops do not have an official launch date, but once released, the company hopes to see improved 3-D consumer adoption. Sales for 3-D TVs have not met expectations so far, according to execs at Best Buy, the consumer electronics retail giant which has heavily pushed 3-D devices from Samsung, Panasonic, as well as Toshiba. A recent survey revealed that 83% of respondents didn’t consider 3-D TVs important enough to purchase–having to wear 3-D glasses was a central complaint. Best Buy CEO Brian Dunn has blamed the low adoption rates on a lack of consumer education.

“One person said to me, ‘Gee, I don’t know if I would want a 3-D TV because if you don’t have the glasses on, it’s cloudy or fuzzy,'” Dunn said recently. “The truth is, a 3-D TV is your best 2-D TV as well. The 3-D is just a feature.”

And that’s exactly what Toshiba is trying to demonstrate to consumers–that 3-D is just a feature on your laptop, no different than an HD screen, a DVD burner, or a Wi-Fi connection. Why wouldn’t you want to have it? After all, you don’t even have to wear those silly glasses.

Still, while 3-D has been big at the box office, it’s unclear whether it’ll ever be big at home. With 3-D TVs failing to gain steam among consumers, it is too soon to rush this technology to a mobile platform before it’s even taken off on non-mobile devices?

[Image by Centralasian]


About the author

Austin Carr writes about design and technology for Fast Company magazine.