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3D Displays May Be Hazardous To Young Children 386

SchlimpyChicken writes "Turns out 3D television can be inherently dangerous to developing children, and perhaps to adults as well. There's a malaise in children that can prevent full stereopsis (depth perception) from developing, called strabismus or lazy-eye. It is an abnormal alignment of the eyes in which the eyes do not focus on the same object — kind of like when you watch a 3D movie. As a result, depth perception is compromised. Acting on a hunch, the guys over at Audioholics contacted Mark Pesce, who worked with Sega on its VR Headset over 15 years ago — you know, the headset that never made it to market. As it turns out, back then Sega uncovered serious health risks involved with children consuming 3D and quickly buried the reports, and the project. Unfortunately, the same dangers exist in today's 3D, and the electronics, movie, and gaming industries seem to be ignoring the issue. If fully realized, 3D just might affect the vision of millions of children and, according to the latest research, many adults, across the country." The Audioholics article is a good candidate for perusing with Readability — the pseudo-link popups are blinding.
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3D Displays May Be Hazardous To Young Children

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 26, 2010 @08:34PM (#32705904)

    Parents are sure not to buy one for their kids right? Right? Riiiiight?

  • by Kitkoan ( 1719118 ) on Saturday June 26, 2010 @08:34PM (#32705908)

    WTF is wrong with them!? Why did they bury the findings!

    I'm guessing to hide the loss of money and man hours from share holders.

  • by Icarus1919 ( 802533 ) on Saturday June 26, 2010 @08:35PM (#32705918)
    Hey, you must be new here. This is what corporations do. They can't get in trouble for stuff no one knows about. Parents won't sue Sega for a malady that they didn't know had been inflicted on their kids.
  • by Kitkoan ( 1719118 ) on Saturday June 26, 2010 @08:37PM (#32705924)
    M for Mature is a rating for content like films and games, not for the mode of delivery of content.
  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Saturday June 26, 2010 @08:41PM (#32705942)

    Because they probably already had a few prototypes out and had a few people using them. Now, if a study comes along that tells that there is a serious health risk associated, the study gets buried. Why? Because it's one thing to not know something is dangerous that you subject people to, but it's a completely different matter if you actually know. Worse, the people you subjected to the experience will know, and they will contact a lawyer to see if they can squeeze some money out of you somehow.

    Instead of chewing Sega out, we should praise them. In this day and age, and if it had been a certain other 4 Letter company, I am not so sure if such a report would have resulted in sinking a probably incredibly expensive project. Instead, I would expect them to bury the report AND release the item. Only to later "discover" that there might be some hazards attached (read: as soon as someone couldn't handle his conscience anymore and blabbed) and "immediately" cease production. By then the product will have recovered its development cost, so at least no loss incurs.

    Yes, that's what I'm fully expecting from a company this day.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 26, 2010 @08:44PM (#32705954)

    Ten years prior to that, Sega actually did release a 3D headset for the Master System.

  • by faber0 ( 234887 ) on Saturday June 26, 2010 @08:48PM (#32705962)
    Whenever a new technology pops up, there come the people that warn about the dangers coming from it and how the world as we know it will end. This was the same with books, trains, cars, radio television, internet, cell phones.... i am sure there are plenty more... As long as you or your child doesn't consume 3d television 24/7 i am sure you'll be fine.
  • by Sarten-X ( 1102295 ) on Saturday June 26, 2010 @08:53PM (#32705986) Homepage

    When I research something for my company, and find it has adverse effects, I bury the reports. More specifically, I throw my findings into the project documentation folder, and move on to something else that will work without the problems. Hopefully, nobody will need to look at those reports again. Granted, I'm evaluating software packages, not consumer products, but I'm assuming the concept's the same.

    Why waste time and money making a formal report, announcing it to the world, and generally just scaring people when 99% of the time the problems are eventually solved, anyway?

  • by johnhp ( 1807490 ) on Saturday June 26, 2010 @09:05PM (#32706046)
    So Nintendo rolls out the best thing in handheld games since the first Gameboy, and suddenly 3D is bad for children. What a coincidence. I suspect that this is just an underhanded PR attack against Nintendo by one of its rivals.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 26, 2010 @09:26PM (#32706154)

    Because you have a moral and ethical responsibility to tell people?

  • by mysidia ( 191772 ) on Saturday June 26, 2010 @09:31PM (#32706180)

    Worse, the people you subjected to the experience will know, and they will contact a lawyer to see if they can squeeze some money out of you somehow.

    They will probably do this even if you didn't know about it, class action.

    After all, your product still caused them the same amount of harm, they are entitled to recover the same reparation as they would be if you knew about it.

    And your company was negligent in failing to conduct the most basic of safety studies to discover a widespread problem with the product that should have been discovered during design and earlier stages of development...

    The only thing that might be different is the punitive damages, and the chance they will settle.

    But if it becomes a major issue, there is a good chance they will start subpoena'ing witnesses, and questioning them.

    They will be obliged to reveal even information collected under a NDA. There is a chance they will discover the company tried to cover it up....

    The only way it makes sense to hide a study and not respond to it in the product design, is if the issue is believed to be so minor, nobody will notice, and the 'harm' of the product will never be proven.

    A good example would be cell phones, and some people's belief that radiated energy might be related to cancer....

    Maybe a mobile phone company's internal study suggested it at some point. It would make sense to bury this, because the data is so conclusive, and it can always be easily and credibly argued that the product does no real (perceptible) harm at all.

  • by MikeFM ( 12491 ) on Saturday June 26, 2010 @09:33PM (#32706194) Homepage Journal
    I have a similar effect when I change from my glasses to my contacts or vice versatile. It's annoying but hardly critical. It's actually worse walking than driving as you worry a lot more about depth perception when walking I think.

    More of an issue is that recently I'm having what the doctor is calling ADHD, which I'm a bit doubtful about, where I can't process the visual information I'm receiving fast enough. If someone talks to me it blurs my vision and gives me headaches. It even helps to close one eye. Taking ADHD meds does help but I can't see why this kind of issue would suddenly just start in my thirties. I'm amazed at how much this problem is limiting me in other ways too - like I really can't read or think straight sometimes or even walk. I can understand why a kid with a learning disorder might really not be able to overcome by willpower alone.
  • by nomadic ( 141991 ) <nomadicworld@gmai l . c om> on Saturday June 26, 2010 @09:38PM (#32706210) Homepage
    Parents won't sue Sega for a malady that they didn't know had been inflicted on their kids.

    Parents would sue Sega for releasing a product that they didn't release?
  • by negRo_slim ( 636783 ) <> on Saturday June 26, 2010 @09:57PM (#32706280) Homepage

    More corporation-bashing.

    Burying inconvenient/embarrassing data is something PEOPLE do.

    But people, unlike corporations, have ethics and a sense of morality to guide them.

  • by X0563511 ( 793323 ) on Saturday June 26, 2010 @09:59PM (#32706288) Homepage Journal

    I would hope that, should you come across something that would be harmful like this (and not strictly specific to your product, but a physiological issue) you would at least make sure the appropriate people would know about it. Anonymize it and send it along to a few researchers or something.

    Instead, it got shoved away and forgotten about.

    Good thing this guy remembered!

    I mean, I understand why they would bury it had it actually been released for mass consumption. But this was not the case. There's nothing wrong with saying "Oh, we were going to do this, but when we found out it causes harm we canceled it" - Hell, that's a positive thing to do! It shows forethought and at least the illusion of caring for your customers.

  • Magic Eye? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dakameleon ( 1126377 ) on Saturday June 26, 2010 @10:21PM (#32706390)

    So wait, does this mean Magic Eye pictures (remember those?) can make you go blind too?

    And while we're at it, is it really such a great idea that almost all the kids movies these days are pushed in 3D?

  • Re:No replies? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by TheCarp ( 96830 ) <[ten.tenaprac] [ta] [cjs]> on Saturday June 26, 2010 @10:28PM (#32706410) Homepage

    Not strange at all, its hard to post while on your crying because your wet dream since wolfenstein 3D just got crushed. Going to have to settle for integrating a stun gun accessory into counter strike to add incentive to play better.


  • by John Hasler ( 414242 ) on Saturday June 26, 2010 @10:40PM (#32706460) Homepage

    > But people, unlike corporations, have ethics and a sense of morality to
    > guide them.

    That's true. A piece of paper has no ethics or morality. It also lacks the abilty to make any decisions or carry out any actions. People do that.

  • by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) * on Saturday June 26, 2010 @11:04PM (#32706556) Journal

    I mean, I understand why they would bury it had it actually been released for mass consumption. But this was not the case.

    Practically the entire consumer electronics industry is counting on 3D to give them a fat, juicy pile of Christmas profits with ongoing dividends into the coming decade. Sony, Toshiba, even Microsoft, Best Buy, Nintendo, every manufacturer of flat screen TVs, Best Buy, Radio Shack, Pixar and every movie studio that's readying 3D releases of their old movies, game developers and on and on have been planning for more than a year for all of us to upgrade our old TVs, displays, DVD players and game systems to the "new 3D". Of course they're going to bury the findings, and if you're any other company, you're already working on counter-studies that are going to show how totally safe 3D actually is for kids.

    Start the countdown: we're going to be hearing in the coming days about how this is all so much worrying over nothing, how in fact 3D is good for children, makes them smarter or something.

    There's no way this entire segment of the market is going to lay down on this one. We're going to hear how this is "junk science" and how it's "controversial" and we'll hear from a steady stream of industry-funded experts telling us that 3D is perfectly safe for kids. How the "nanny state" is going to try to take away your god-given right to 3D and it's all liberal propaganda from people who want to turn back technology. My guess is that some of the same "grass-roots" groups (aka public relations firms and lobbyists) that were so helpful in pointing out how climate change and evolution are junk science will lend a hand on this issue.

    Just watch, you're going to get your 3D one way or the other.

    And by the way, am I the only one who finds this latest incarnation of 3D, even when done well (e.g. "Avatar") is garish and sort of unpleasant, like "low-fat" chocolate mousse made with Simplesse? It might taste good for a second, but after a few minutes you're in for a stomach ache (I mean this aesthetically, of course).

  • by Sarten-X ( 1102295 ) on Saturday June 26, 2010 @11:44PM (#32706748) Homepage

    When using package A on system B with configuration C and test profile D, while running profiling software E and monitor F, and supplying it with data from source G and database H, throughput is roughly N% lower than using package Z on system Y with configuration X and test profile W, while running profiling software V and monitor U, and supplying it with data from source T and database S.

    Supply the appropriate values for the appropriate letters, and you have most of the reports I've buried. They're absolutely worthless outside my application, unless you're trying to dig up meaningless evidence for/against any of the components.

    Life is complicated. Research is, too. Note that I haven't read TFA (this IS /., after all), but I suspect the report included lovely details like viewing angles, use profiles, the specific 3D technology used, and so forth. Change any tiny detail, and the previous research is probably irrelevant.

  • by DigiShaman ( 671371 ) on Saturday June 26, 2010 @11:55PM (#32706778) Homepage

    There's nothing wrong with saying "Oh, we were going to do this, but when we found out it causes harm we canceled it"

    Just a guess, but I imagine it's because they don't want to officially taint the technology to the public. This way, should they find the problem and/or revise the 3D technology to solve the issue, they would not have to back pedal to an already leery would-be consumer. Also, it would set themselves up for a major lawsuit should the revised technology continue to cause harm. Saying "we thought we fixed it" vs "we didn't know" is a lot more damning.

  • by Prune ( 557140 ) on Sunday June 27, 2010 @12:12AM (#32706838)

    Please mod the parent down, as the post implies that people using autostereoscopic displays are safer, and this could be a hazard to their vision. It is the difference between stereopsis (convergence) and accommodation (focus) that is the issue, and except two types of 3D will suffer from this: holographic and volumetric (and possibly specially configured microlensarray displays)

  • I call bullshit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nbauman ( 624611 ) on Sunday June 27, 2010 @12:59AM (#32707040) Homepage Journal

    I'm interested in strabismus because my father and my sister had it. I've been tested for it myself by optometrists with fancy equipment that required me to orient my eyes in different directions, sort of what TFA describes.

    I read that whole article and the links and I couldn't find a single thing to support their claim that 3D video causes strabismus.

    It looks like the whole article is based on Mark Pesce telling Wayde Robson that he doesn't have time to be interviewed for 2 weeks.

    The journalism that Robson practices is a bit too familiar and colloquial for my tastes. It's one thing to read an article that sounds like a guy giving you the straight dope after a few drinks in a bar. It's another thing to read an article that sounds like a "journalist" who doesn't know what "fact checking" means.

    He quotes SRI as saying, “You Cannot Give This To Kids!” but that's fiction. SRI would never use words like that in a scientific report. I don't suppose it occurred to Robson to call SRI and find out if they actually did a report like that. Or to call an optometrist or ophthalmologist.

    "Children under seven are at risk of strabismus – period." Another fiction.

    Let's go back to basic scientific method. If you actually found children under seven who didn't have strabismus, then used 3D video, and developed strabismus, you could raise the reasonable hypothesis that 3D video caused strabismus. I've never heard of strabismus being acquired like that, but I'm open to new evidence.

    Nothing in TFA indicates that anybody found a single child under seven who had strabismus from 3D video. So there's no justification for making that statement. It's all speculation.

  • by Sarten-X ( 1102295 ) on Sunday June 27, 2010 @01:23AM (#32707142) Homepage

    After that last post I did RTFA, and I still feel the same.

    The headset is on the kid's head, preventing them from possibly looking away. The technology used isn't mentioned, but it is implied that the visual quality isn't great. There's also lots of little variables like exposure time, audio cues, and visual refresh rate.

    What you should get from this buried report is that that specific implementation of that specific technology had the potential for causing harm. It should imply nothing about 3D technology in general, just like my report that package A is slower than Z should not imply that all computers are slow.

    Go stand in front of a mirror for a while, and marvel at the 3D imagery from a 2D surface. The mirror can be considered to be emitting photons at carefully-specified frequencies, positions, and directions, just like an ideal 3D television would do. Our inferior pixel technology just can't aim photons well enough yet, so we use a variety of tricks to accomplish the desired effect of getting different images to each eye. One certain trick might have adverse health effects, but changing the parameters slightly changes the effects.

    For example, the Sega headset used dual LCD screens. Todays 3D televisions generally use a single screen, usually with glasses to isolate the eyes. That's a major difference, and probably enough to invalidate the previous research for any use other than fear mongering.

  • by cacba ( 1831766 ) on Sunday June 27, 2010 @04:13AM (#32707684)

    I'm still here.

    If you weren't still here, could you post? Anecdotal evidence with a dash of selection bias, how useful.

  • by Hognoxious ( 631665 ) on Sunday June 27, 2010 @04:23AM (#32707714) Homepage Journal

    If nobody said it then how is it a commonly used expression? []

  • by shaitand ( 626655 ) on Sunday June 27, 2010 @04:59AM (#32707806) Journal

    Not but I would feel obligated not to release the dangerous product the report was about. Apparently Sega felt the same. If the results had been positive Sega would have 'buried' it in the same manner.

    Companies normally don't release these reports regardless of the results. Leave it to other vendors to do their own testing and pay for that testing.

  • by YourExperiment ( 1081089 ) on Sunday June 27, 2010 @09:06AM (#32708456)

    You put forward a well-argued case, but seem to miss the important point that this is the first indication that any type of 3D technology can have an adverse health effect.That makes the findings of far greater general interest, since it suggests that further research into other types of 3D technologies is warranted, to discover what proportion (if any) of them cause similar effects.

  • by Nethead ( 1563 ) <> on Sunday June 27, 2010 @04:09PM (#32710628) Homepage Journal

    Which is why I mod things funny when in doubt.

    Countless times I've up-modded a comment from a foe because, while I might not agree with the statements, they were made in an intelligent and manner and added to the thread. Even ass-hats sometimes are insightful.

Bell Labs Unix -- Reach out and grep someone.