Connor "Con" Sumer looked up at the beast that stalked him ever since flat-panel TV sales began to flatten out. "Stereoscopy," he thought, "the word even sounded like an uncomfortable medical procedure." This was far from the first time 3D tried to take over the world. Fueled by a steady diet of hype, the fight continued for years this time, but now, at last, it was coming to an end.
Con looked down at his tattered clothes. They weren't torn in the battle. Rather, he just wasn't able to afford new ones after all the money he spent on a 3D television. He was viewed as a hero, but the beast itself did so much to self-destruct -- high prices, glasses incompatibility, forcing choices between resolution and convenience and limited content.
The monster was further weakened to the point that going in for the kill was easy. Major broadcasters, including ESPN and the BBC decided to abandon 3D while 3net, a partnership among IMAX, Sony and Discovery Communications, remains available only on DirecTV. On the video game front, while the PlayStation 4 supports 3D, at least as well as its predecessor, there's little emphasis on 3D for the forthcoming console.
Still, even now, there are well-intentioned forces on the side of 3D that are trying to make things easier for everyone. There is the chunky, but inexpensive Kickstarter project called Poppy that seeks to bring some of the iPhone's halo to 3D image capture. Phones that supported 3D natively, like those from HTC and LG, display 3D in only one orientation, flopping instead of flipping. Instant 3D, another Kickstarter project, from holography pioneer Gene Dolgoff, turns virtually any content into 3D -- even on a 2D television. But it hasn't captured even 10 percent of its overly ambitious $850,000 goal. Then there's Nintendo, which has somehow always managed to make technologies that failed elsewhere -- such as dual screens, styli and resistive touchscreens -- work. For many other devices, resistive was futile.
The 3D monster smiled at him, as it put on a pair of glasses compatible with only one brand of televisions. "You wouldn't hit someone with glasses, would you?" it coyly asked.
Con felt a force yawning closer. A giant wave of indifference was rushing straight toward 3D. If only he could find a way to ride it. Scrambling onto his remote control like a surfboard, he sailed toward the monster and hurled a copy of the Clash of the Titans 3D Blu-ray disc at it and penetrated its depth of field. The monster split into cyan and red ghosts. And then it was gone.
Con breathed a sigh of relief, Finally, he thought, the nightmare was over. Then, from around the corner, he saw the beast driving a car that produced a peculiar optical illusion -- the closer it seemed, the farther away it was. "I'll be back!" 3D roared. "And I'll be bringing my auto-stereoscopy with me!"
Ross Rubin is principal analyst at Reticle Research, a research and advisory firm focusing on consumer technology adoption. He shares commentary at Techspressive and on Twitter at @rossrubin.