James Cameron says autostereoscopic 3D the way to go

Visionary filmmaker James Cameron has kind of spit all over the 3D early adopters by saying that the technology they’ve invested thousands of dollars into will be obsolete, and should wait until “glasses-free” 3D TVs become more readily available.

Thanks to the breakaway success of Avatar, Cameron has sort of become a self-appointed ambassador of 3D media. His voice has become influential among other content providers and anything he says about the medium is treated as the gold standard.

So it comes as kind of a surprise that he’s shunning the current wave of 3D technology entering homes now. Instead of embracing the stereoscopic 3D standard, which requires viewers to wear special 3D glasses, Cameron said it will be 5 to 10 years before the average consumer accepts 3D. By that time, he says, autostereoscopic should be the new standard.

The conversation came during a roundtable with Google CEO Eric Schmidt at a private club in San Jose. The pair was discussing 3D and its barriers to entry.

Autostereoscopic 3D technology is still in its infancy, with Nintendo’s 3DS the first mass-market device to fully rely on it. The technology incorporates thousands of tiny mirrors into a display to make it appear as though a flat screen has depth. There are no 3D glasses required to achieve the same effect that traditional “glasses-required” 3D has.

At least, that’s what it says on paper. In reality, autostereoscopic 3D is less vibrant than stereoscopic, and at least for now, it requires users to view the screen at a very specific, head-on angle.

There are a lot of barriers to overcome, but Cameron says it is the only way 3D TV will become a commercial success. There are just too many people saying negative things about the requirement to wear 3D glasses.