By Neil Schneider
Normally when we go to conferences like CES or NAB, the exhibits are absolutely HUGE, and span floors, halls, and buildings. FMX 2010 is geared towards professionals more so than consumers, and while the exhibits were concentrated to a single room, less was more in this case. While much of it was beyond my level of understanding, I did find some gems to share with you.
First was Trioviz’s anaglyph solution. It has earned its share of coverage because it offers a competitive option for getting stereoscopic 3D to work on traditional 2D screens. While I wouldn’t put it in the same category as a true 3D HDTV display, it has found a great niche in getting 3D out to the masses without causing the discomfort that traditional red/blue glasses are known for.
There is a great story here too. At the 3D Gaming Summit, Trioviz was on display showing their work with Batman Arkham Asylum Collectors Edition on PlayStation 3. Everyone was talking about how wonderful it was, how cool it was, etc. When I got to see it for myself, my brain couldn’t fuse the image. Instead of seeing 3D, I saw this thick purple outline around the characters that wouldn’t go away. The representative doing the demo explained that it would disappear once my brain adjusts after about two minutes. So I waited…and waited…and waited. It’s kind of scary when everybody around you says they can see 3D and you can’t, especially when you work in the industry.
Well, it’s a good thing I went to FMX! I had the opportunity to get a demo with Christophe Brossier, CEO of Trioviz. It turns out that for the 3D Gaming Summit, Trioviz had hard plastic versions of the glasses made. Unfortunately, the glasses had a manufacturing error, and the lenses were in reverse! My eyesight is fine! Woohoo! This also means that everyone who demoed the Trioviz solution at the 3D Gaming Summit who had the same problem as me, should give it a second look.
Something interesting about the glasses is there are slight variations according to the content being shown. In the case of cinema on TV, Trioviz puts more emphasis on the 3D experience. With gaming, they moderate the 3D experience a bit in exchange for the color accuracy. While the principles are the same from one pair of glasses to the next, they still do some lens optimizations according to the content and product being shown. So the Batman Arkham Asylum glasses are a little different from the other pairs available. This is a huge benefit for those wishing to get the best S-3D gaming experience possible via an anaglyph option.
I also got to sample The Cinemizer by Zeiss. The Cinemizer is a head mounted display (in the shape of glasses) that offers mobile movie viewing in 2D and in stereoscopic 3D. It’s capped at 640X480 per eye, and it is marketed to people on the go. In fact, the 3D movie sample they were showing was running on an iPod Touch. While the unit accepts a squished side by side format (50% the horizontal resolution and 100% vertical), they insist that it is calculated scaling rather than a simple stretch of the image.
There are some challenges with the unit. First, it doesn’t have a VGA or DVI connector, just component video. So PC gamers are out of luck. It would also be good to see more HMDs break the 640X480 per eye barrier at the consumer level. While the image is great for what it is, I’m sure gamers would like to see even more. Still, the resolution is no less than that offered by Vuzix’s VR series of HMDs.
Finally, and this isn’t a challenge for all of us, the Cinemizer is only available in Germany at this time. I think this product can go far with the right partners and content, so we will have to wait and see.
Let me introduce you to Axel Koerfer, Financial Officer for Bitmanagement Software GmbH and Sven Well, Co-Founder of NolimitZzz Interactive Technologies. Together, they market a game engine that features web browser support. Their work is the back-end of a new MMOG called Leelh. What makes it unique is that they support stereoscopic 3D gaming within the browser! Their exhibit featured an iZ3D monitor, but they didn’t have any 3D running at the time. Still, browser based S-3D gaming is an interesting concept, yes?
The game is completely in French, so I’m at a disadvantage (Je parle un peu Francais, mes TRES MAL!). If members can find out more about this game and its standing in stereoscopic 3D, please share! I’ll do more digging at my end too.
In conclusion, the one thing that stood out absolutely clearly is that stereoscopic 3D content was all the rage at FMX 2010. During some of my meetings, Pam was taking pictures all over the exhibit floor, and there were several display samples of stereoscopic 3D cameras (photo and video), professional 3D displays, and general interest. Very promising, indeed! Share your comments below.