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3D or Not 3D? That Is The Question.

The legal requirement for a CEO to produce profits for shareholders has given the world a technology industry with evolutionary innovations, heralded as revolutionary ones. The best, current example is 3D television.

Arguably, the best-known form of 3D imaging is Anaglyphic.  This is where two pictures of the same target are taken  (one from each eye position), and then the left is run through a red filter and the right through a blue, green, or cyan one. The images are overlaid and viewed through matching coloured glasses, to yield a yellowish 3D image.  Distance and colour tuning on the screen is required for the best effect. In addition to these limitations, colour blind people are not able see the 3D image.

If you want 3D today without investing in a big TV, take a look at this nVidia compatibility list and find yourself a set of red/cyan filter glasses. Download the latest drivers for your Operating System, install, then Start -> nVidia Corporation -> 3D Vision -> Enable 3D VISION Discover.  The full details of this process are available directly from nVidia’s 3D Vision Discover page. Still images are nice, but trying this effect on a compatible game, like Bad Company: Battlefield 2, and you’ll see the true value of 3D  – an interactive experience.

Did you know that Google Streets has an Anaglyphic mode, with no drivers or special video card required? If you have the 3D glasses, check it out now.

The next evolutionary step to 3D is the polarized method. If you’ve seen a 3D movie in the theatre, you’ve experienced this method. Unfortunately, CRT (old fashioned TV!) and LCD technologies use polarization in the generation of their image; polarized glasses do not easily work with them.

The solution to this problem is to alternate the display of two discrete images, synchronized to glasses that alternately block either the left or the right eye. The result is that each eye sees only the images meant for it. LCD Shutter Glasses are the technology used in the current crop of 3D televisions.

This brings me back to my initial concern. When I first heard of the announcement of 3D displays, I mistakenly assumed that a technology that I have been hearing about since the turn of the millennia had finally reached the consumer market. Imagine the disappointment I felt when I discovered that it was only shutter technology.

Now that everyone is investing in this adequate technology, Toshiba is presenting a new screen at the end of the month, which creates a 3D image without the need for glasses. This is what I had been expecting and am dismayed to see it being demonstrated only months after the consumer market has been sold on using shutter glasses.

The original systems had a big limitation in requiring the viewer to sit in a fixed position, but this has apparently been solved. The Toshiba autostereoscopic display will be at the SID 2010 conference in Seattle, from the 23rd to 28th of May, 2010. This has probably been sitting in a lab for a few years, waiting for right moment to burst onto the market as the next big thing to replace, soon to be labeled as antiquated, shutter systems.

Manufacturers pushed 3D LCD as the big revolution, now only a few months later it is all about LED. Unless you really need 3D now (get Samsung’s LED offering), save your cash for the real revolution. It will come – eventually.

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