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Sony Surreptitiously Confirms 3D Eyestrain Problems

by July 15, 2010
Tests have shown that prolonged exposure to 3D video may result in this...

Tests have shown that prolonged exposure to 3D video may result in this...

Tucked away in the latest Terms of Service for the PlayStation Network, and other associated websites, is a lovely little section that seems to confirm issues raised by the recent Audioholics' Editorial: WARNING: 3D Video Hazardous to Your Health.  The consumer electronics giant seems to suggest that, in its current form as with past attempts, consumer grade 3D video may be a source of sundry maladies that cause discomfort of the eyes and digestive tract, but more importantly may result in improper vision development in young children.

This lawyerly gem of non-responsibility takes the following form:


Some people may experience discomfort (such as eye strain, eye fatigue or nausea) while watching 3D video images or playing stereoscopic 3D games on 3D televisions. If you experience such discomfort, you should immediately discontinue use of your television until the discomfort subsides.

SCEA recommends that all viewers take regular breaks while watching 3D video or playing stereoscopic 3D games. The length and frequency of necessary breaks may vary from person to person. Please take breaks that are long enough to allow any feelings of discomfort to subside. If symptoms persist, consult a doctor.

The vision of young children (especially those under six years old) is still under development. SCEA recommends that you consult your doctor (such as a pediatrician or eye doctor) before allowing young children to watch 3D video images or play stereoscopic 3D games. Adults should supervise young children to ensure they follow the recommendations listed above.

Anything sound familiar?

Sony does not want to take the blame if you or your children play 3D games or watch 3D video and later develop any sort of visual impairment.  But they also do not want to dissuade you from buying that expensive new Bravia 3D HDTV to go with your PlayStation, so they bury this warning all the way at the end of the Terms of Service where it is least likely for anyone to notice it.

Like most, if not all companies, Sony is fully aware that few consumers actually read agreements like Terms of Service or End User License Agreements for simple activities such as using a website or using software because they treat it casually, very much unlike other common consumer contracts such as signing for a home mortgage or for a lease.  For that matter, there is no signature required, but the agreements often require a box to be checked next to the word agree or state in the text that any usage implies agreement to these nonnegotiable and completely one sided pseudo contracts that people are constantly bombarded with.

To be fair, Sony is far from being the only company to depend upon these types of tactics, they are ubiquitous to the modern business mentality.  You can expect to see similar disclaimers buried in accompanying documents for every 3D video product that comes to market.

What is important to note is the change in integrity of how business is conducted between now and the fifteen odd years since 3D visual technology last reared its head in the consumer market.  After having spent considerable R&D money, the companies pursuing 3D technology that would have been incorporated into products likely to be used by children, who represent a particular risk, dropped development when they discovered these issues.  Here and now, the companies pushing 3D video technology appear to know full well that there is an issue such that they are vetting disclaimers through the legal department in hopes of avoiding any long-term liability from seeking immediate profit.

So, dear consumer, it’s caveat emptor; and don’t wear those silly glasses for too long.


About the author:
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Professionally, David engineers building structures. He is also a musician and audio enthusiast. David gives his perspective about loudspeakers and complex audio topics from his mechanical engineering and HAA Certified Level I training.

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