Back in the fall of 2010 I was kicked out of my apartment for a few hours by my fantastic cleaning lady, and I wandered the streets of Montréal on Cloud 9. Not because of the cleaning mind you, but because I’d kissed Allison for the first time the night before, while watching a movie on my couch (Zombieland). Great night. My wanderings took me to the flagship Hudson’s Bay store in Montreal, and inevitably to the electronics department. I decided to check out the 3D televisions.
The first problem I ran into with the 3D TVs was the glasses, they didn’t work. I tried on the first pair (which had an ugly, heavy, security cable attaching them to a podium), no dice. I tried on the second pair, no luck there either. Looking at the glasses in more detail, I found a power button! Pushed, tried them on, nothing. Repeated the process on the other pair, still nothing. There I was, big electronics department, with a range of 3D TVs in front of me, and the glasses didn’t work.
If I was going to describe the target market for 3d televisions in 2010, I might have included a picture of myself. Male, 30, into technology, owns a variety of different entertainment products and consoles, decent disposable income. As far as I could tell I represented the exact person they were hoping would be the early adopters on these.
While wandering off I finally encountered a sales person, I mentioned that the glasses for the TVs didn’t work. He told me they were fine, and motioned for me to follow him. It turned out that you had to push and hold the power button down for a few seconds in order to turn them on. As I put them on the sales person walked away, and I got to enjoy a demo video in 3D.
Well, sort of. First the glasses had to sync with the television, then I was all set, great demo video on directly in front of me. Of course, I wasn’t in a room with a single television, there was several along the wall to the right and left of the central television, and since my glasses had sync’d with the one directly in front of me (not the others), the other televisions had essentially been turned into strobe lights. Incessantly blinking at me. When I turned my head towards the blinking lights the glasses re-sync’d with a different television, a disorienting procedure that allowed me to view it properly, but turned the one directly in front of me into a strobe light.
So, after requiring aid to put on a pair of glasses that were practically chained down, I was being forced to view very expensive televisions adjacent to a series of strobing pictures with an absentee salesman.
Despite all of the issues, this was really cool! This was 3D, for my living room! No red-blue glasses either, this was the real thing! Maybe I could get one, then invite Allison over again for a 3D MOVIE! Clearly owning impressive technology was the way to any woman’s heart. While those thoughts were racing through my mind I caught my own reflection in a mirror, the glasses were not pretty. If you picture a pair of 3d glasses in your head right now, you’re probably imagining the modern polarized set you get at the movie theatre. Designed to fit anyone, over prescription glasses, rather ugly so people don’t steal them. Those glasses were years away back in 2010, and these were active shutter glasses. Rather than just two panes of polarized plastic, they each lens was a small LCD panel capable of going from transparent to opaque and back many times a second. They looked a little like this, but in black:
As I put the glasses back on the presentation pedestal and rubbed my sore nose I realized: There was absolutely no way I could try to kiss a girl for the first time wearing a pair of those. I left the TVs behind, I think I picked up some apples I could slice and flambé to serve over ice cream instead.
The kissability test: When considering a product, could you imagine kissing someone you care about for the first time while using it.