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GDC 2012 Part II - InfiniteZ

Michael Vesely - Founder
Pat Quan - VP Business Development

Michael Vesely, Founder, and Pat Quan, VP Business Development for InfiniteZ at GDC 2012
zSpace absolutely blew me away, and I don't think I've ever said that about a product demo at a trade show.

It's going to be hard to get the impact of the product across in words, but the nuts and bolts of the system combine a 3D display panel with head tracking and a stylus to enable you to interact with objects in a 3D simulation as if they were real.

Most likely, the biggest part of what makes the illusion so convincing is the real time head tracking and how the display adjusts to every movement you make to keep the displayed image correctly projected.  I have taken a look at some systems with head tracking to adjust and calibrate autostereo displays, and demos with head tracking to produce holographic like displays - but this was the best and most responsive system I have seen so far!  I suspect it is looking at trackers on the glasses you are wearing to precisely calculate the position of your eyes.

The second most important part is probably the way the stylus lets you reach in and interact with the objects in the display.  Clearly, the accuracy and responsiveness of the system of knowing where the stylus is and how its oriented are critical.  It uses a ray projected from the tip when you press a button to let you select and interact with things.  It'ss amazing how it looks like a laser is really shooting out from the stylus.  It's not like its roughly in the right place and a frame or two behind in the update as you move it around - no, it looks like its a beam coming out of the physical device in your hand.  As you move your head and your hand to see how it looks, it continues to be convincing.

Pat Quan, VP Business Development for InfiniteZ at GDC 2012The last piece that really brings the system together is the resolution and quality of the passive 3D display panel.  Normally, an LCD passive display sacrifices resolution and looks pixilated - especially when you get close to it.  This one doesn't, and its really amazing how each eye sees a full resolution image.  Unlike a consumer display that needs to look good for both 2D and 3D, theirs is strictly for 3D and is just spectacular.  The details are proprietary, but they are using two panels and are not having problems with view angle, color, or intensity.

Even though it's expensive and primarily geared towards commercial applications, the zSpace interface really shows where things are headed with the convergence of display and user interaction.  I think this will open up great opportunities for games that we have never seen before (or felt like we could touch!).

Kris Roberts completes his GDC coverage tomorrow with a lot more to share!  Be sure to comment below!