2010 marked the dawn of 3D TV. Along with 3D TVs, Sony has developed 3D glasses (TDG-BR100/BR50). The fit? Tailored for a wide range of head sizes, with models for children and adults. The styling? Perfect for 3D viewing. Just what you would expect in glasses made by Sony.
Yuyama: 3D TV R&D at Sony was underway at a time when 3D movie theaters in Japan were still a rarity. Perhaps because the movies themselves felt like a ride at an amusement park, the 3D glasses seemed like toys, and some were disproportionately large, compared to your face. 3D TV was finally almost ready to take off, but with these glasses, it would never get off the ground. We realized that to help popularize 3D TV, we needed 3D glasses as stylish and practical as our TV sets.
For product designers, though, this would be a tough project. Glasses are a personal product, after all, and people choose glasses that suit their own face. Could we offer styling that suits everyone? Could we ensure a good fit for one and all? 3D TVs are also a new product category, so people probably expect 3D glasses to look innovative. Still other design requirements included wearability over prescription glasses and comfort after hours of use. Quite an overwhelming project at first, but we eventually plucked up the courage, knowing that we had to rely on our own strengths. It was reassuring to realize that even opticians go through some trial and error to ensure glasses fit well, after following the general guidelines in their field; this process resembles how we usually develop headphones.
We started by sorting out all relevant ideas we could imagine. What was the essence of 3D glasses, something unlike regular glasses? In the first place, must they look like glasses? We hoped that examining these ideas would yield some design insight.
Yokozeki: We set to work in pursuit of the essential elements of 3D glasses. Every idea we had, we sketched and modeled. Glasses built into headphones, linking audio and video. Glasses resembling wraparound sun visors. Units worn on your head and supported by your forehead. Headband glasses, and others.
From this exploration, it became clear that the more novel the body was, the harder it would be for people to know how to wear them. Ideally, as something you wear while watching TV, the glasses should be structurally simple and easy to wear. Along this line of thinking, nothing seemed better than the shape of regular glasses, which anyone can just immediately pick up and put on.
Wearability over prescription glasses was another requirement, so we turned our attention to this kind of eyewear. You might see people wearing this goggle-like eyewear as a measure against pollen allergies, or dust at construction sites. They're ideal for wearing over regular eyeglasses, and they have the added benefit of blocking out peripheral light (thanks to a prominent bridge), so you can focus on what you're watching. But if we weren't careful, our 3D glasses might end up being far from stylish.
After several attempts, we began to realize that we should redefine the basic shape of glasses. The familiar structure of glasses is two-dimensional, with a plane formed by the lenses and lines formed by the temples. Instead, we adopted a continuous, three-dimensional structure from the temples to the lenses, which combines the intuitiveness of glasses with innovative styling that diverges from traditional eyeglass design.
Structurally, the lenses are seemingly "embedded" in substantial frames, which also simplifies mounting of the electronics inside. But aesthetically, making the plane formed by the LCD lenses look natural next to the wearer's face was an issue we still had to resolve.