Mid-Week Poll: What’s the 3D Killer App?

As I was saying just last week, consumer interest in 3D TV has fallen way below expectations so far. Part of that, of course, is due to the backlash against 3D from people who find it gimmicky or annoying. However, I will continue to argue that the greatest impediment to 3D TV adoption is the lack of 3D content to watch on it. This begs the question: What will be the killer app that finally gets people interested in 3D?

Both Hollywood and the consumer electronics industry seem to be banking on movies (supplied primarily by 3D Blu-ray players and discs) driving consumer adoption. That’s probably my greatest area of interest, but I’m not sure I agree that everyone feels the same. Most 3D movies can be enjoyed just as well (or better) in standard 2D. I believe that the true “killer app” for 3D will have to be something that delivers a compelling experience that blows away its 2D counterpart.

The folks over at Kotaku think that adult content (i.e. porn) will be that killer app. After all, pornography was a major factor in both the home video boom of the 1980s and the internet boom of the 1990s. However, I suspect that porn in 3D will be one of those concepts that sounds better in theory than it winds up being in execution. While 3D has the ability to make objects seem to extend out from the TV screen, it also often has the side effect of making those objects look smaller, which could hamper the fantasy. Then again, I’m no expert in this subject, so we’ll just have to see what happens here.

A lot of people are interested in 3D sports, but the need to wear 3D glasses and sit in a “sweet spot” position may be detrimental to the often communal nature of watching sports. If you have a dozen friends over for a Superbowl party, you’ll need a corresponding number of (expensive) glasses for them, and everyone will have to sit directly in front of the TV. That’s not going to work for many interested consumers.

Personally, I think that videogames may be the true killer app. Although I’m not much of a gamer myself, the idea of playing racing or First Person Shooter games in 3D seems incredibly compelling to me. Also, most gamers either play alone (or maybe in twos, but not usually more) in front of the television, and sit closer than your average TV/movie watcher. That should work out really well for the immersive 3D experience.

What do you think the 3D killer app will be? You can pick more than one option below if you want.

What's the 3D Killer App?

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  1. It should have been Avatar but Samsung sucked the hype out of it by making it an exclusive. Exclusivity deals like this are killing the format from gaining real traction.

    I remember seeing Avatar in the theater when it came out and everyone was talking about getting a 3D TV when it came out on Blu….none of my friends bought into 3D as of yet, including myself.

    • Josh Zyber

      I think you mean Panasonic, not Samsung.

      What kills me is that industry rumors had it that Avatar would only be exclusive to Panasonic for a couple of months, just enough to get the company through the holidays. But now it’s suddenly locked up for another whole year. What a bunch of bullshit, as the saying goes.

  2. that1guypictures

    Even though Avatar is frustrating, I’m much more frustrated with Samsung & Dreamworks. It’s a whole studio’s library worth of exclusives, and even if you buy a tv you only get 1-4 titles, but it locks you out of the other titles! Panasonic is giving you a free copy of Avatar if you buy any of their 3D products now…even just a 3D blu-ray player, a camcorder, a home theater in a box, or glasses. The Samsung exclusives already included Monsters Vs Aliens, and Dragon, but adding all 4 Shrek films, Megamind and the Kung Fu Panda films later this year while discontinuing the older titles and keeping them exclusive is much more offensive to me.

    • Josh Zyber

      To give you a little insight into this, a Dreamworks Animation rep spoke at Blu-Con in November and basically implied that Blu-ray wasn’t a significant product category for them at all. Their target audience is kids and families, who are much more likely to buy the DVD editions of Dreamworks Animation movies than the Blu-rays.

      Blu-ray still makes them some money, and he made some positive statements about continuing to support the format, but it clearly isn’t anyone’s focus over there. I think, from their perspective, they feel like they don’t have much to lose by locking all of their 3D titles (which are a niche within a niche) into exclusivity deals.

  3. I think the killer apps will be Travel Shows and nature shows. Also, I think consumer 3D cameras will really help drive this. You don’t know how tempting it is to do a real-time conversion on old 3D stuff, so that you can almost “relive” moments. It is so awesome to be pulled back into something from years ago, to see the kids (not mine, I don’t have any) young again, to go back to places I loved, but have not been able to get back to. THAT is the killer app.

    Its why I am so interested in the Bloggie 3D. $250 for a cheap 3D camera (granted, not the best camera around) is REALLY exciting to me.

  4. Keith

    The killer “App” will be non-ridiculous pricing and glasses free tech. No one wants to buy a new $2-$3000 TV and $2-$300 blu-ray player to replace the $2-$3000 TV set and $2-$300 blu-ray players they just bought a year and a half ago on top of that having to spend $150+ on one pair of glasses.

    It’s not the technology that most people don’t want, it’s the price. It’s cost prohibitive right now and most people don’t just have that kind of coin laying around. I know I don’t.

  5. Jane Morgan

    3D won’t ever have a killer app.

    HDTV didn’t have a killer app. Color TV didn’t have a killer app.

    At least, not in terms of entertainment product.

    Mass market affordable, high quality, glasses-free 3D, global smartphone-to-TV video chat, “Hi, grandma, we’re at the zoo, look at the monkeys…” might be a hardware killer app.

    3D won’t take off until the internet is 100x faster.

  6. Vizio showed off an amazing use of 3D tech for gaming. In co-op games, instead of splitting the screen in half, both players occupy the full screen, creating a weird mash of images. Special Right or Left 3D glasses separate the images, giving each player the full screen vision.

    For me, gaming is that killer app. Once games are made with 3D in mind and developers get past the idea of things popping out from the screen, we’re going to have one hell of an interesting experience.

    • Wonder if you could go with yet another 3D tech, split the resolution down to like 540p, and have 4 players on the screen at a time. Its why I never played GoldenEye – hated being in the little box. I will put up with it on MarioKart, but really don’t like it. This Full-Screen gaming sounds cool, and a gaming tournament / deathmatch sounds like just the thing. Problem is, if you are playing with a large group of friends, they wouldn’t be able to join in and watch the action. Unless you hooked up a second screen to your console that showed everything in windows again.

      • The spectator issue is a problem for sure, but I don’t know how often that issue would actually come up. If you are wearing normal 3D glasses, you can simply close one eye or the other to see a different player, but that’s not entirely convenient.

        Most of my console gaming is done in a side-by-side cooperative setting. I can’t tell you whether my buddy and I would actually trade the inconvenience of sharing a screen for the inconvenience of wearing an additional pair of glasses, but we’d sure give it a shot.

    • Jane Morgan

      Maybe the XBOX 720 / PS4 generation hardware will have power to spare, such that co-op gaming can make a comeback.

        • Jane Morgan

          Too many game developers are making the same complaint, that this generation of hardware is too weak for split-screen co-op.

          Burnout Paradise. Uncharted 2, etc…

          Borderlands is great for 2-player split-screen, but the systems weren’t powerful enough to do 4-player split.

          Elder Scrolls V would be killer if they pulled a Borderlands, but I doubt the current hardware could push that much awesome at 30fps.

          • It’s all about priorities. If they’re pushing the single player too far on these systems they’re not going to be able to do it on the next gen hardware either. Some developers focus on co-op, others don’t.

            Borderlands, Halo, Gears of War – these are all games that look good in the single player but hold up in co-op.

          • Jane Morgan

            This generation of hardware could barely do 720p at 30fsp.

            Next generation should be able to to 1080p at 60fsp with plenty of overhead.

            The percentage of next-gen games that include co-op will increase dramatically, simply because the power of the new consoles will finally exceed the potential of our displays. For developers, it will almost be a free feature to implement.

  7. Lone_gunmen

    I’m keen to see how it’ll turn out for GAMING moreso than films. 3D films don’t interest me.

  8. mh

    Killer aps for color TV? There sure was one in my house (growing up in the 1960s). The lady down the street from us had a color television, and we’d occasionally go there to watch THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF COLOR or BONANZA on her set (she was childless and loved having neighborhood kids over). But when BATMAN premiered and swept the country up in its pop art look, my dad went right out and bought us a color TV.