Technology has advanced in many different ways over the past decades, from computer desktops to the currently dominating tablets and smartphones. Another huge advancement can be found in today’s 3D technology. When it came to watching movies, this technology used to be limited to prominent movie theaters and customers were required to put on 3D glasses. The quality of both the technology and the glasses was relatively low—but this is changing.

The visibility of the change in 3D technology can be seen in its growing use by major companies worldwide. In that regard, there are various innovative aspects to the technology, which include:

–          3D printing: This development isn’t as recent as many may believe; the oldest commercial 3D printing technology was invented by Charles Hull in 1984. He named it “Stereolithography Apparatus” and in 1986 acquired a patent. Many systems (and new developments) have followed over time, and today this technology is known as 3D printing. So how does 3D printing work exactly? Once the object’s 3D measurements have been properly scanned into the system, the printer can start working its magic. Layer on top of layer is being printed in the 3D shape that was scanned. In 1993, MIT introduced 3DP and used powder as printing material and moreover, Z Corporation commercialized the technology. For example, enabling 3D printing in color. There is no doubt that in the near future, 3D printing will be a standard for many industries.

–          3D gaming: Video games have been enjoyed by many generations and 3D tech has affected how games are built today. Some would argue this is the industry where 3D technology can enhance users’ experiences the most. According to The Guardian, the reason is that “the ability to perceive depth might make a palpable impact on the very nature of game design, leading to environments of greater immersion and a more intuitive navigation experience.” Gamers are actively participating in 3D experiences, whereas watching 3D TV is considered passive participation. The technology is surely to be implemented in a large percentage of future game development.

–          3D movies: The movie industry couldn’t stay behind. Movie producers acknowledged the potential in 3D movie development and that realization has led to the production of many 3D movies. There is even a 3D optimized version of Titanic scheduled to hit theaters this year, and the 3D version of Star Wars – Episode I: The Phantom Menace is currently playing in movie theaters. Hollywood is not going to pass on this chance to increase revenue and deliver high-quality productions at the same time.

–          3D HDTVs: Along with movies, manufacturers have produced “3D-ready” TVs. However, many still require the use of glasses that are (often) not included with the TV purchase, which results in additional costs for the consumer (and people will probably need more than one pair of glasses). In many cases, TVs allow consumers to enable/disable the 3D option at will. Early adapters may have obtained a 3D television, but there is still room for improvement. Depending on the progress of this technology, televisions will undergo changes over time.

–          3D phones: Obviously, it would be highly inconvenient for people to use 3D glasses for their 3D phone. This means that mobile 3D technology has to be offered to the audience in a different way. It is still a very new technology and it hasn’t integrated in the smartphone world (yet), since there are only a couple of 3D phones developed so far; for example, HTC EVO 3D and the LG Optimus 3D. Due to the lack of 3D content, people might not feel the need to purchase a 3D phone. However, as soon as 3D apps are mass-produced and consumers realize its value, 3D phone sales are likely to increase.

Glasses-free technology, or autostereoscopy if you will, has successfully been applied to the Nintendo 3DS and users are able to see 3D images, videos and games. What does this mean for the future of 3D technology? It may be just a matter of time before you no longer need glasses to view ANY 3D content.

Are you impressed by 3D tech providers and planning to use it? I would love to read about it in the comments!