On October 6th, Pacific University will host the grand opening of its new 3D Performance Eye Clinic at 2:30 PM in The Round at Beaverton Central. A collaboration between Pacific University and THX, the clinic will study, diagnose and help manage potential eye health and stereoscopic vision-related issues when viewing 3D TVs, projectors and beyond.

To learn more about the new center and how it will shape the future of 3D, Test Bench Blog sat down with Rick Dean, THX senior vice president and 3D@Home Consortium chair, and John Dahl, THX senior fellow and director of education.

How did THX get involved with the 3D Performance Eye Clinic?

Rick Dean: Through our work in 3D certification of CE products, and with the 3D @ Home Consortium, we grew concerned over some of the negative, largely incorrect, rhetoric about health issues surrounding 3D in products, especially when used by children.

Talks with the American Optometric Association (AOA) resulted in initial studies done on this topic and others. As a member of the 3D@Home Consortium, it was a natural step for Pacific University to take this research to the next level.

Pacific University’s new 3D Performance Eye Clinic is the first of its kind to include home theater viewing environments. So not only can it study the eye ailments that may result in uncomfortable 3D viewing, but also how that relates to the same people’s ability to function in normal life.

What’s the link between 3D and Eye health?

RD: Stereoscopic “3D” vision helps us catch a ball, pay attention in school, and many other aspects of everyday life. The fact that we haven’t been detecting eye problems appropriately in the past has now come to surface, largely thanks to the momentum of new 3D technologies. The 3D Performance Eye Clinic is going to focus on how to improve eye treatment, and also identify the eye ailments related to stereoscopic vision. Proper diagnosis and treatment before age six can have tremendous benefits in a child’s life. If you look at students who don’t do well in school, or have trouble paying attention in class, sometimes this is misdiagnosed as another ailment. Being able to understand that better is a huge benefit.

How will the ability to diagnose 3D related eye issues help drive the use of 3D overall?

RD: It is important to note that we’re not trying to get people to have their eyes checked so they can go out and buy a 3DTV. In our work to date—and by “our” I mean THX, 3D@Home and the AOA—we have found that many of the same ailments that cause uncomfortable 3D viewing, also affect normal everyday health. As 3D expands beyond the theater/living room, into computers and classrooms, it becomes vital to understand and diagnose issues related to stereoscopic vision. We don’t want a situation where students or adults are left out of school lessons or jobs because of their inability to see stereo…in real life.

We’ve also found that people who’ve been diagnosed and treated not only can now enjoy 3D movies and TV, but more importantly are able to see better out in the real world.

What was THX’s role in the development of the theater inside the 3D Performance Eye Clinic?

John Dahl: For the last several years THX has been helping CE partners advance the 3D experience through our display certification program, as well as our home theater set up guidelines. When we were asked by the Pacific University to help create a 3D theater for their research facilities we felt it was an excellent opportunity to further our understanding of 3D in a way that benefited our partners as well as anyone who has experienced difficulties when viewing 3D. THX drove partner support to provide THX Certified equipment for the Beaverton clinic and the university’s Forest Grove laboratory. For the Beaverton clinic, we advised them on design and construction of the room itself along with the type and placement of the home theater equipment. I worked closely with the general contractor, Dennis Beyer of Five Star Builders. Ford Montgomery of Chelsea Audio in Beaverton, OR installed the system.

What equipment did THX recommend for the 3D theater?

JD: Thanks to the generosity of our partners, we were able to provide some of the latest and greatest THX Certified home theater gear. We chose all THX Certified equipment, not just because we’re THX, but also because we know that it will in no way limit the research being done by the university. We also were careful to match the equipment to the size of the room and the audience so that the system is an accurate representation of what someone could have in their home.

Numerous THX partners and other vendors, including Intel, Nike and Planar Systems, were instrumental in contributing to this project. THX helped source THX Certified products from partners for the 3D Performance Clinic including:

How did THX ensure the room was up to THX standards?

JD: The resulting theater does not meet strict THX requirements for a Certified venue due to factors beyond the university’s control. The theater does, however, provide excellent picture and sound quality that exceed their requirements for 3D research: full control of the ambient light, appropriate image size, appropriate image brightness, dark neutral colors on the ceiling and walls, minimum visual distractions in the viewer’s field of view, and a single seat directly in front of the screen.

What role has THX played in the advancement of 3D?

RD: THX has always been about raising the bar for performance. 3D is just another layer of the entertainment experience—as both a new art form and a new technology. Like anything new, there’s a learning process. THX continues to learn as the technology advances and applies that knowledge to our certification programs so that our partners can manufacture products that deliver the best 3D entertainment experience possible.

What improvements in 3D technology does THX foresee in the near future?

JD: In the near future we expect to see a continuous refinement of current technologies. Those refinements will be a result of the filmmakers’ increased skill in incorporating 3D into their storytelling, and manufacturers finding improved ways to refine picture quality and reduce costs.

And for 3D in general?

RD: Our investigations have been focused on the entertainment space. What we found working with so many of the organizations around 3D, is that 3D is an everyday fact of life. What we do on screens and with projectors has to mimic real life. If there are problems seeing a great 3D presentation, there may be aspects of real life we’re missing as well. Uncovering these things is really important right now. It’s not just about making 3D better as entertainment, but making 3D an enjoyable experience in everyday life.

What does THX envision coming after 3D?

RD: The last few years have been focused primarily on 3D as a visual artform and technology. Now that we have a more immersive picture, there’s lots of room to investigate more immersive sound. There’s a certain school of thought that wants more and more surround channels. We have to look at ways we can do this using systems we already have in place, but enhancing the technologies that create the soundtracks. Ideally, we want to be able to improve the emotion of the experience, without causing people to have to reinvest in an entirely new system.

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