Although I couldn’t make it to CES this year, I have been following it pretty closely through reading liveblogs, news items, press releases, and unsurprisingly live webcasts. Unsurprisingly, probably the main highlight of the conference this year is popularization of 3D media. Displays, cameras, movies, and all the compute power to render, edit, and distribute it.

What’s become immediately obvious, however, are the challenges that this new format will face before becoming widespread. The most glaring of which, is how all the 3D I’ve been able to see so far is this:

Parallax

No, not Bono or how content providers hope this will sell yet another copy of media we already have, or how 3D is somehow the end of movie piracy ( this time in a 3D format. Parallax.

Of course, parallax is fundamental to how 3D displays work; you present different images to each eye with the subject shifted proportional to how much depth should be perceived. The chief problem that I think adoption will face is that, ultimately, you need to see an example of 3D to become a fan of 3D. In essence, it’s impossible to convey what 3D displays look and seem like (especially over print or 2D monitors) until you already have one.

Forget the primary hurdle to 3D, the glasses (unless you have a very special 3D monitor that doesn’t require them because it uses voxels or a surface pattern to create the parallax). It seems to me like, already, you’re going to have to go either see a 3D movie or find a very lucky friend who has a 3D monitor to make an educated decision about it yourself. And although it seems like the industry has already decided this is the next big trend, consumers must first be convinced it’s the way to go.