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Surprising Science

3D Looks to Change the World (While Also Providing Pretty Awesome Movies)

For a long time, it seemed like primitive 3D technology (and the word “technology” was used pretty loosely back then) did very little to enhance the entertainment experience. But with the collective mind-blowing being experienced by people who have seen Avatar with more-refined 3D technology, we appear to be on the cusp of a new 3D revolution. And it could help us in ways that go well beyond viewing movies.

With the annual Consumer Electronics Show now upon us, word has spread about the countless ways in which 3D viewing will soon paint everything we watch and play. Sony, one of the reigning giants of media and entertainment, has already announced their intention to go all in on 3D, most notably with their popular line of HD televisions. Another giants, Disney, has been using their own proprietary 3D technology with all of their latest releases and has just announced its first 3D TV network, a spin-off of their hugely-popular ESPN cable brand. Meanwhile, Sony and Imax are partnering on their own 3D cable channel.  Spotting the trend stateside, the South Korean government is injecting millions of dollars into their own 3D research and development.

But intriguing as the 3D migration from the multiplex to your living room is, the technology has also found a second life in a variety of other applications, most notably involving health and science, but also clothes. At Cornell University’s College of Human Ecology, an in-house 3D body scanner has been finding a variety of uses. They include analyzing the efficiency of the design of firefighter uniforms and, in a partnership with Nike, studying a revised system for apparel sizing. All of this could prove to revolutionize the levels of comfort we experience in apparel. But there could be more to 3D than comfort and entertainment.

At the Queensland University of Technology, scientists have started using 3D research models to study the spread of prostate cancer. Meanwhile, Stanford’s 3D Radiology Lab is looking to change the standards of diagnostic imagery while training physicians worldwide to bring them up to speed on the latest 3D technology. Aside from educating others, the 3D lab has also integrated 3D technology into analyzing everything from the lungs to the colon.

While brain scans have also started integrating 3D technology, researchers at York University and Seneca College are tapping into the brain in a whole new way using 3D. The two institutions have partnered with AMD, who are readying their own home entertainment 3D standard, on the MULTI project, a 3D interface that should provide insight into how the creative mind operates. Which could potentially bring us all back to 3D movies, which is how most of us are enjoying 3D as of right now.


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