ABU DHABI // The UAE will be the first country in the Gulf to stock 3D televisions starting next month, the manufacturer Samsung announced. The brand's new range of 3D sets will hit the shelves in mid-May, and by June at least one event - Fifa World Cup coverage - will be produced specifically for the new technology. Broadcasters, including Abu Dhabi TV, Etisalat's E-Vision and Al Jazeera, are planning to offer 3D TV soon.
The announcement comes less than a week after the company issued a list of health problems that can result from watching 3D television. The guidelines, similar to warnings for other TVs, say that 3D sets can induce a host of medical problems, including disorientation, and are not recommended for people who have been drinking alcohol. Children are particularly vulnerable to health risks such as altered vision, light-headedness, eye or muscle twitching, cramps, convulsions and a loss of awareness, according to a statement from the South Korean electronics giant.
Interest in 3D television has soared since the release last year of the blockbuster film Avatar. The TVs utilise a similar technology, in which glasses synchronised to the picture alternate which eye is able to see the frame being shown. A representative for Samsung said the company did not expect the warning to deter buyers and that the firm had received no complaints from customers in countries where the 3D units have already been launched.
Dr Jon Craig, a general practitioner who works at Dubai's American Hospital, said the effects of watching 3D images for a prolonged period have not been determined. "3D technology is really a way of tricking your brain into believing something which is in two dimensions is really in three," Dr Craig said. "Our bodies have very complex visual systems, balance systems and muscular systems, which are all connected. If you can fool one of them, then you can imagine that this could easily disorientate your brain in some other manner.
"You can imagine that if someone is slightly hypersensitive to these disorientation effects, then potentially watching a lot of 3D TV could cause them more problems. It is the duration of the exposure that is the issue. If you watch three hours of 3D TV, that is one thing, but the cumulative effect of longer exposure to disorientating stimuli is less clear." Samsung has said it hopes to sell two million TV sets over the next 12 months.