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Three dimensional games are becoming quite popular these days. Many developers strive to make your game playing as realistic as possible using rendered two dimensional graphics to appear as 3D. However, the screen of your monitor is still flat and continues to display a 2D image. These rendered 2D images have cues that help human vision to perceive depth with shading and color gradations. The method helps but still does not provide true 3D graphics with real depth. This is where Stereoscopic 3D comes into play.
Stereoscopic 3D is a technology that has been around since 1982 but was mainly used in computer aided chemistry, CAD, and geographic information systems to help researchers and designers fully visualize a computer model of a complex system. Several attempts were made to bring the technology to home PC users without much success because of high costs, complicated installations, and a shortage of compatible software.
The market for Stereoscopic 3D has changed for the better today. Many leading game developers such as Lucas Arts, Interplay, Gremlin, and others have stereoscopic 3D games available on the market and dozens of new titles are expected to include the technology as well.
How does this Stereoscopic 3D technology work? To explain this, let us first take a look at how you view the real world. Both your left and right eyes, which are separated by a few centimeters, relay two different images to your brain. When you close one of your eyes, some depth perception is lost. If you close your other eye, you'll notice the image being shifted a little. Using both of your eyes your brain automatically processes the two images to make one complete 3D image. Stereoscopic 3D works in the same way by displaying two slightly offset perspective images to your monitor one after the other. Special eyeglasses that have Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) shutter lenses will alternate between left and right eye views by blocking your vision for the other eye. For example, when the monitor is displaying a left-eye image, the right LCD shutter will close to prevent your right eye from seeing that image. The images interchange very quickly to provide a true 3D image to your brain. Objects will then appear more realistic and seem as if they come out of the screen.
In order to enjoy games that support Stereoscopic 3D, you'll need to own a pair of glasses that have the LCD shutter lenses. The first unit that we reviewed was the Simuleyes that was made available earlier this year. The next two units we would like to talk about are the 3-D Spex by NuVision Technologies and the CyberBoy by Woobo Electronics.
A program called NuViewer is included that allows you to view other 3D images on your screen. This program also has sample reels that will display images as a slide show. A 30-day money back guarantee is written on the packaging which allows anyone to give the unit a try for 30 days to see if the new 3D effects are for them or not. The suggested price for the 3-D Spex is $99 US.
CyberBoy connects easily to your serial port with a 9-pin connector and the earphones plug into your sound card. No external power source is required, but depending on your available serial ports, you may require an adapter to change a 25-pin port into a 9-pin port.
A slide show of various 3D images is available with a program called Stereo View, and 3D images can be viewed from other applications or users with the 3D effects using the CyView program. Games that are included with the unit consist of Descent II by Interplay, Depth Dwellers by Trisoft, Fatal Racing (Whiplash) by Gremlin/Interplay, and a patch to play Descent I V1.5. The suggest retail price for CyberBoy is $129 US.
A high refresh rate from both your video card and monitor is required to have a 100% flicker free image. The minimum refresh rate is 75 Hz and although the image does flicker, it isn't that bad. Optimum refresh rates are up around 90 Hz to 120 Hz which would provide a flicker free image. Going higher than 120 Hz is not recommended as it could distort the image. The reason for the higher refresh rates is that since two images are being displayed one after the other, it is actually cutting the refresh rate in half, which is normally set to 60 Hz. When using a refresh rate of 120 Hz, you would then be restoring a 60 Hz refresh rate providing the flicker free images.
Other games in which you can use the Stereoscopic 3D technology include: Magic Carpet and High Octane by Bullfrog, Math Rescue and Word Rescue by Redwood, VR Sling Shot by Virtual Entertainment, and Wolfenstein 3D by Apogee. Games that are coming soon that should include the technology are: Shattered Steel by Interplay, In Pursuit of Greed and Birthright by Softdisk Publishing.
If you're looking for that extra push of 3D realism, then you should consider picking up a pair LCD shutter glasses. The extra depth and realism may just make your games more exciting to play.
Note: The 3-D Spex unit contains a warning saying that children under the age of seven should not use artificial stereo vision as it may not be safe for very young children and may cause serious, permanent damage to their eyes. Also note that the CyberBoy does not recommend playing times over 30 minutes, while the 3-D Spex claims you can play for hours without any discomfort. As reviewer of the two products, I would recommend a break after an hour of play just to bring yourself back to the real world once in awhile.
Written by Trevor Bennicke
486DX-66 or higher (Pentium recommended),
Min 8Mb memory (16mb recommended),
Dos 5.0 or higher,
Hard drive required with at least 30Mb free (80mb recommended),
Double speed CD-ROM drive faster (quad speed recommended),
VGA video graphic card (SVGA with 100 Hz refresh rate recommended), Parallel port.
|Technical Support:||+1-503-614-0567 Monday through Friday 8:00am to 5:00pm PST|
Internet Support: NuVision Technical
Web site: NuVision Technologies
486DX-66 or higher,
Min 4Mb memory,
Dos 5.0 or higher,
Hard drive required with at least 30 Mb,
Double speed CD-ROM drive faster,
VGA video graphic card (SVGA with 100 Hz refresh rate recommended), Optional sound card, Serial port.
Internet Support: Woobo Electronics Technical
Web site: Woobo Electronics
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