Nintendo is launching their new 3DS handheld gaming system in the near future (March 19th by some leaked reports).  This will be the first device that promises 3-D viewing without the need for special eyewear, which is one of the biggest complaints about 3-D.  This form of 3-D is called stereoscopic 3-D (S3D) and relies on your own eyes’ ability to work together to perceive depth.

Nintendo 3DS logo

Last week, Nintendo released a press release warning consumers of possible damage to the visual system in young children who use their 3DS system in the 3-D mode.  The warning states that “watching 3-D images for an extended time could result in adverse effect on eyesight development in the case of children 6 years old and under, therefore we highly recommend a switch to 2-D display.”  This agrees with findings out of the Pennsylvania College of Optometry at Salus University.  Their early research suggests that stereovision does not fully develop until the age of 6.  I highly recommended that you turn off the 3-D display for your child under the age of 7.

This new stereoscopic 3-D will not work for everyone and individuals will have varying degrees of 3-D vision.   This new system has a slider bar control that will allow you to increase and decrease the depth provided as needed.  The warning from Nintendo also states “If you are exhausted or not feeling well, please refrain from playing.  Also, when you start feeling ill, stop playing immediately.”  This comes as no surprise as our stereovision (depth perception) works best when we are well rested and have no other stresses on the system.

This new gaming system is exciting as it is the first application of 3-D without the use of special eyewear.  As an eyecare professional, I also get excited knowing that this device could possibly be used as a training device to help develop better stereovision.  So, stay tuned as we see how this new technology shapes up and what inventive ways we can use it to better our vision.

Below is a nice little video showcasing the new device.