As we all know, James Cameron loves to talk about 3D. And considering the guy spent several years and millions of dollars developing 3D technology in the depths of the ocean in order to make Avatar, the least we can do is listen. Cameron believes the next big step in 3D is getting rid of those pesky glasses and that glasses-less 3DTV is about eight to ten years away from hitting critical mass here in the United States. Considering HDTV has been around since the 1990s, but didn’t really hit big until about five years ago, that estimate sounds about right. So, once Avatar 2 and 3 come home, maybe you won’t have to feel silly watching them with 3D glasses on.

However, the main conceptual issue with glasses-less 3DTV is most people have a problem actually visualizing what it means. Even though we live in a 3D world, it’s hard to imagine a 3D movie or TV without glasses. Well, the answer is coming home much sooner than you’d think. March’s release of the Nintendo 3DS will be most people’s first foray into the whole new world of glasses-less 3D entertainment and we attempt to describe the experience after the jump.

Note: I’m fully aware this is a crude example and there surely will be some difference between the 3D technology Nintendo is using in 2011 vs. what we will see in a decade from now. But playing with the 3DS was my first glimpse into this next stage and that knowledge seems apropos with recent Cameron’s declaration at Blu-Con 2010. Thanks to Gizmodo for the heads up.

Some 3D films – Up is a great example – use 3D differently from the rest. It’s not so much in your face as it is away from it. The images don’t come out from the screen, they go deep into it. That’s what playing a Nintendo 3DS, and therefore probably watching glasses-less 3DTV, is like. I got the opportunity to play with one at E3 2010 as a reporter for Collider and while you can read my full impressions on the system there, including a breakdown of what games I played and movies I watched, I can sum it up in one sentence.

It’s like holding an aquarium in your hands.

Isn’t there a 3DTV commercial out there with an aquarium in it? That’s perfect advertising. Nothing jumps out at you from the screen, the image just goes deep beyond the screen as if you were watching something several inches thicker than you actually are. It’s actually a very comfortable and familiar experience. If you are sitting at a computer right now, look all around you. There are things behind your monitor in space, right? That’s glasses-less 3D. It’s like real life – just wrapped up in a little box with “Sony” or “Nintendo” written on it.

Now, at an estimated $300 at launch in March, I’m not sure I would immediately go out and purchase a Nintendo 3DS, but definitely take a test spin when the demos hit the floor at local Gamestops or Best Buys. It’ll give you a great idea as to what glasses-less 3DTV will be like in the coming years.

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