Durham University tries to fix 3D sickness

Clever Boffins at Durham university, and the University of California have teamed up to help people avoid getting the headaches and sickness associated with 3D TV and gaming.

The current problem with 3D is that our eyes are forced to perform an action which is called
“vergence-accommodation conflict”. When our eyes look at an object, they must first aim towards that point – referred to as vergence – as well as focus on the object – or accommodate – in the same way a camera would.

Because the image seems to jump out of our screen this creates a  conflict at the point where the eye’s focus is fixed at the screen, while our eyes converge to look at the image elsewhere. This is what causes discomfort for some, according to the team.  

For eight years Marty Banks and Gordon Love, along with their researchers, have been beavering away on a technology which goes by the name of In-Focus 3D. It eases the symptoms some of us feel when watching 3D as it puts a lens between each eye and forces it to focus on the distance of the image rather than the distance of the screen or console.

Mr Banks told TechEye that the technology could help with gaming as it would reduce the sickness associated.

Last week we reported that the Nintendo 3DS was causing some gamers a world of pain, with reports of sickness and headaches, but Nintendo refused to acknowledge to us that there was a problem.

“The 3D video games industry is the most problematic,” Mr Banks told TechEye. “With cinema and TV we can work to reduce the problem by increasing the viewing distance but we’re not sure with the video game industry.

“The other problem with this industry and the 3D technology is that the older you are, the less you are affected by 3D symptoms, however, those who play on games consoles are young – meaning they get the worst effects,” he added.

Of course, Nintendo has a slider in place, which could help users reduce the eye strain.

He said the universities had not yet approached this sector with their new technology but they “would very shortly.”

At the moment the team are targeting those in the medical research market, as well as companies in Computer Aided Design. They are also talking to a company in Canada about incorporating the technology into televisions.

Sickness-prone cinemagoers may have to hold their horses. According to Banks, the “technology works best when it’s helping just one single person.”