Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The future is 3D - nVidia's shutter glasses support

Many's the night we've whiled away the wee hours wishing for moving holograms. Who could resist a 3D interactive model that would integrate into our world so naturally? We're not there yet, but a step on the journey is 3D display technology. We'll be looking at this solution currently sold by nVidia.
The GeForce 3D vision glasses set from nVidia
The GeForce 3D vision glasses set from nVidia (The future is 3D)

The glasses operate by blanking out alternate eyes while looking at the monitor. They sync with the little black pyramid via infra-red - which itself syncs with the display.

Speaking of displays on the small end there is currently not too much to choose from. The technology runs the display at 120Hz, giving each eye a 60Hz view - at this rate all the nausia previously associated with this technique in the past should be alleviated.

Of course you'll need a 120Hz monitor capable of 3D before this will work. Currently widely available is the Samsung SyncMaster 2233RZ. It's a not particularly great to look at 22" TN panel display, that weighs in roughly twice the price of a normal 22". It also only supports WSXGA+ (1680x1050). Something leaving us feeling a little disappointed, when we're looking at the future of gaming.

 It's also possible to buy the Samsung 2233RZ as a bundle with the glasses kit

It's also possible to buy the Samsung 2233RZ as a bundle with the glasses kit (The future is 3D)
Monitor wise the only other alternative on the cards right now is the Viewsonic FuHzion VX2265wm. Similarly disappointing specs, but with a slightly lower price tag.

Well, who needs monitors? Mitsubishi and Samsung DLP TVs with 3D support also work with the 3D Vision glasses. DLP is a fairly new technology in televisions that provides an alternative to LCD/Plasma/OLED displays. It uses an array of microscopic mirrors to project an image onto the screen from behind. Prices are fairly cheap, resolutions are 1080p, image quality is good and screen sizes are huge. These are much better candidates for an immersive 3D environment than the cheaper TN panel LCDs.

One thing to note, we'd suggest looking for a DLP TV that uses LEDs or LASERs as the light source rather than a bulb. The prior two systems have a much longer lifetime. Availability in Europe of DLP televisions is also not as good as it should be, so you may have to hunt around.

The Samsung HL61A750. An LED powered 61" 1080p 3D capable DLP TV
The Samsung HL61A750. An LED powered 61 inch 1080p 3D capable DLP TV (The future is 3D)

The 3D effect itself is seemless, and well worth the effort. The bother of having to wear a pair of glasses is really only an issue if you already need to wear glasses. The 3D vision pair are designed to fit over the top of existing face irons, but your mileage may vary.

In most games depth is used very well, though nothing really "jumps off" of the screen as the current generation of games are not really programmed with drawing things behind the camera into consideration. We're sure new games will be released with this in mind though, as the 3D system is certainly capable of it. We'll be trying to duck under rocket propelled grenades flying out of the screen at us in no time.

The crosshairs in most FPS games have to be swapped for a depth aware one from nVidia. Games are being added and adapted to work well in 3D by nVidia at a progressive rate. So you're sure to find some of your favourites supported already.

We end with some screenshots hoping to give you a glimpse into the effect. In the same way 3D stereograms - all the rage in the 90's - work, if you distance your vision until the two images overlap, then they should lock together and become 3D. This is the only way we can think to promote the effect via 2D media.

Please note: none of the eyestrain associated with this technique happens in practice using the 3D vision kit.

Try to join the green reference dots while keeping them aligned with the white border

3D demo images - Try to join the green reference dots while keeping them aligned with the white border (The future is 3D)
[image source]

Finally, we would love to see this technology combined with ATI's Eyefinity, for an excellent high resolution immersive setup.

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