Nintendo 3DS – Safe Technology?

As a 30 something year old, hearing the name Nintendo doesn’t instantly bring to mind the Wii, Game Cube, N64, Super Nintendo, nor even the original NES.  My first memory of Nintendo are its pocket games of the early 80’s.  For those of us who could not afford Atari, there were a series of hand-held electronic games that Nintendo began making in 1981, known as Game & Watch.  Titles that I played during numerous bus rides were Crab Grab and Donkey Kong.  If you wanted to play more than one games, you had to carry more than one device.  That’s just the way life was.

Donkey Kong Dual-Screen Watch & Play (1982)

After reflecting on these primitive electronic gaming experiences, it is no surprise that Nintendo is taking the world of video gaming to a new level of technology via hand-held device.

Today Nintendo announced the coming of a successor to the famous DS.  The Nintendo 3DS is the tentative title of the new portable gaming machine that is said to harness 3-D capable hardware that would be glasses-free.

Artist's Rendering of Nintendo 3DS

As we currently know it, the world of 3-D is brought to us in the form of two forms of glasses: active and passive.  The latter is commonly associated with the classic linearly polarized lenses, otherwise known as the red & blue glasses used in watching classics such as King Kong.  In this technology, two images are projected onto one screen but each lens filters it so that each eye one sees one of these images, resulting in the magic of stereoscopy… 3-D.

Active 3-D glasses use the concept of alternate-frame sequencing.  Basically, the film is doing the job of the linear polarized lenses, alternating frames to show the left image, then the right image, then the left image, etc.  The active 3-D glasses contain radio receivers that make the lenses open and close in rapid succession.  The projection system transmits a signal to the glasses to let it know which lens to have open with the corresponding frame.

Do the above descriptions sound like a strain on your eyes?  It’s because they are.  It’s an entirely new sensory experience, which leads to side effects.  The greater mental effort required to process 3-D most commonly causes headaches.  With the success of the box office 3-D hits like Avatar, the issue of 3-D side effects is growing.  Besides headaches, viewers are also reporting 3-D fatigue caused by their eyes becoming tired.

Consider that these types of effects are being reported only after short-term experiences with this technology.  Imagine what effects may be discovered as consumers burn time, playing the Nintendo 3DS daily for hours on end.  The glasses won’t be in the equation with the 3DS but is that only for convenience or for health reasons?

Hopefully more info will be given on this glasses-less 3-D technology when Nintendo reveals the 3DS at the E3 Expo in Los Angeles this June.  In the mean time, be safe and dig up your old Watch & Play.  It’s painless… well except for your thumbs.


One comment

  1. I’ve heard that the 3DS will use a Nvidia Tegra graphics card! Isn’t that cool! I’m kind of bummed that the bottom screen will be smaller than the DS lite’s bottom screen, though. Do you know if is it true that the Nintendo 3DS will have a multi-touch screen and a GPS?

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