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Warning: 3D TV May Enrich Lawyers

The big news du jour is that Samsung has posted a legal disclaimer on its Australian website warning consumers that its new 3D TVs may cause unexpected health reactions among children, teenagers, pregnant women, epileptics and, oh yeah, drunks.

It was only a matter of time. In this litigation-happy un-brave new world, anything fun probably will kill you, and that means it’s pay day for shysters.

Hey, in this world where a hot cup of joe is good for a few million in legal settlements, 3D TV is bound to set off cash-register bells at Harvard Law.

Any technology I can remember that requires the viewer to wear glasses to see a picture has been known to cause some people anything from headaches to full-on motion sickness. Why should 3D TV be any different?

Let’s ignore the fact that some other 3D tech proponents promised us that this new and improved active-shutter stereoscopic technology doesn’t cause headaches or other discomforts typically experienced by previous 3D TV glasses technologies. Perry Mason, are you listening?

So it’s no surprise that Samsung 3D TV ads, and I expect a long list of other 3D TV makers to follow, will start reading like commercials for male impotency drugs or ADD medications with a tendency to turn your kids into serial killers.

Just for grins, here’s what Samsung’s disclaimer has to say:


Ouch, that’s a buzz kill after the Black Eyed Peas concert.

“Some viewers may experience an epileptic seizure or stroke when exposed to certain flashing images or lights contained in certain television pictures or video games. If you suffer from, or have a family history of epilepsy or strokes, please consult with a medical specialist before using the 3D function.” Guess we won’t be getting a Neil Young 3D Blu-ray boxed set any time soon.

But wait, it gets better: “Even those without a personal or family history of epilepsy or stroke may have an undiagnosed condition that can cause photosensitive epileptic seizures.” Maybe we should be equipping our troops in Afghanistan with 3D TV screens instead of assault rifles.

“Pregnant women, the elderly, sufferers of serious medical conditions, those who are sleep deprived or under the influence of alcohol should avoid utilizing the unit’s 3D functionality,” Well, this has gone too far. Most drunks won’t need glasses to view images in 3D. I think this means 3D TVs now qualify as heavy machinery.

“If you experience any of the following symptoms, stop viewing 3D pictures immediately and consult a medical specialist: altered vision; lightheadedness; dizziness; involuntary movements such as eye or muscle twitching; confusion; nausea; convulsions; cramps; and/ or disorientation,” I suddenly have this vision of school kids lining up 300 feet from a school yard to buy 240Hz 3D LCD TVs from the neighborhood pusher.

“Children and teenagers may be more likely than adults to experience these symptoms. Parents should monitor their children and ask whether they are experiencing these symptoms,” Now this sounds like a sales incentive in my home.

“Viewing 3D television may also cause motion sickness, perceptual after effects, disorientation, eye strain and decreased postural stability. It is recommended that users take frequent breaks to lessen the potential of these effects. If your eyes show signs of fatigue or dryness or if you have any of the above symptoms, immediately discontinue use of this device and do not resume using it for at least 30 minutes after the symptoms have subsided.” Man, “Avatar 2″ better be really good.

“Watching TV while sitting too close to the screen for an extended period of time may damage your eyesight. The ideal viewing distance should be at least three times the screen height. It is recommended that the viewer’s eyes are level with the screen.”

“Watching TV while wearing 3D glasses for an extended period of time may cause a headache or fatigue. If you experience a headache, fatigue or dizziness, stop viewing TV and rest.”

OK, here’s the part that got me: “Do not use the 3D glasses for any other purpose than for viewing 3D television. Wearing the 3D glasses for any other purpose (as general spectacles, sunglasses, protective goggles, etc.) may be physically harmful to you and may weaken your eyesight.” Guess that means we won’t be seeing 3D specs on the runaways of Milan after all.

“Viewing in 3D may cause disorientation for some viewers. Accordingly, DO NOT place your TV television near open stairwells, cables, balconies, or other objects that can be tripped over, run into, knocked down, broken or fallen over.” They left out the bottom of swimming pools and rooftops of speeding vehicles.

The disclaimer concludes with these simple guidelines for enjoying your new 3D HDTV experience in the privacy of your own home:

“To watch in 3D mode you need to put the 3D glasses on and press the power button on top of the glasses.” Ah ha!

“Turn off all fluorescent lighting and block sources of direct sunlight before watching in 3D mode. Fluorescent lighting may cause a flickering effect and direct sunlight may affect the operation of the 3D glasses.”

Alas, our new 3D TVs seem to be going the way of Joe Camel before they’ve even gotten started. But as they say, every dark cloud has a silver lining, and I know one group of customers that will be lining up to buy 3D TVs in the days and weeks to come  – professional negligence lawyers.