3DTV can improve experience for the partially sighted
By Julian Clover
Published: December 14, 2010 09.37 Europe/London

Partially sighted people report an improved picture quality for 3DTV over standard 2D, but the differences are not as significant as for the fully sighted.

The conclusions come from a new report prepared for the RNIB by i2 Media.

Thirty-two partially sighted people and a control group of 43 fully sighted people were shown a series of 2D and 3D clips under three viewing conditions: 3D with active 3D shutter glasses, 2D with de-activated 3D shutter glasses and 2D without 3D glasses.

Dr Jonathan Freeman and Dr Jane Lessiter found half of the partially sighted sample preferred 3D with activated 3D shutter glasses to 2D with or without 3D shutter glasses that had been de-activated. Those that indicated a preference for 2D often suffered from conditions that nullified some of the depth effects of 3D so that the difference between the two.

On average partially sighted people reported better picture quality for 3D with activated 3D shutter glasses than 2D without glasses. For a small minority simply wearing the glasses was sufficient, reporting a reduction in perceived glare, but the researchers suggest this could simply be the effect of expectation as the participants believed the picture to be better as they were wearing glasses and taking part in a study.

Partially sighted people reported a significantly higher level of engagement/presence for 3D with activated 3D shutter glasses than either of the 2D viewing conditions with or without 3D shutter glasses that had been de-activated. The pattern was similar to that among fully sighted participants, who reported even higher engagement/presence ratings.

Negative effects such as dizziness/disorientation, eyestrain, headache and nausea were low with most participants reporting no difficulties.

All participants were able to discriminate between the 2D and 3D presentations, although this was better among the fully sighted. Participants in both samples made errors when viewing 2D with de-activated 3D shutter glasses. A minority of the partially sighted participants were able to identify 3D correctly, suggesting that some may be able to draw benefits from 3D content when their particular condition allows.