Nvidia was pushing their new 3D stereographic technology at PAX. Nvidia is in a unique position to add Stereographic video to DirectX or Open GL games. The Geforce 8, 8800, Geforce 9 9600, Geforce 200, or higher support this option already. Stereographic video uses two images, with one shifted slightly to the side of the other image. Then you show one image to the left eye and the other to the right eye (through the use of lenses) it will look like the image has depth that you otherwise could not perceive.
There were three ways Nvidia presented at PAX that deliver the image to either eye. Two of those setups everyone should be familiar with, since theaters and home movies do this. There is the old way of tinting each image either blue or red, and then wearing glasses that have colored glasses so you can only see one or the other color. They had one monitor in their booth hooked up this way so that you can use the cheap glasses to see in three dimensions. The problem with this setup is that obviously it messes with the colors, and looks weird.
The other way theaters do it is using polarized lenses. They then interlace the video and use a special projector so that you only see certain portions of the screen with each eye. One of the other groups in the expo hall was showing off this setup. They were selling monitors that would work with the standard polarized lenses. I tried these out while at PAX; some of the demos that they were showing seemed kind of blocky or pixelated. I’m not sure if this was because it was interlaced, or because they were demos just to show off the technology, and not real games.
Nvidia was mostly showing off their 3D Vision glasses. These didn’t require any special monitor, though, in reality, anyone that would want one of these setups would have to buy a new monitor. These glasses work by opaquing the image to each eye alternately 120 times a second. By swapping the image from left to right eye 120 times a second the monitor just shows the image for each eye every other frame. Most CRT’s will have the necessary 100Hz or higher. With CRT’s people bought high refresh rates because they reduced strain on eyes, and were nicer to look at. With LCD’s the manufactures almost never bothered to go above 60 Hz. The problem is that for Nvidia’s 3D vision graphics you only would get half the fps the monitor naturally gets, so with a standard 60 Hz monitor that is only 30 fps which is far too low for most games.
This means that, fancy new LCD you just bought is becoming obsolete already. Ironically though, if you still have your old, huge CRT around, it will probably work great with that. The demo that they showed of the goggles on looked really good; you can see the image clearly, with no real distortion to the image. How well the 3D feel works somewhat depends on the game, but like mentioned above Nvidia has an advantage on the tech in this field. They are given the 3D model and told to render it for one point of view normally. All they had to do to get the stereographic images was to instead move the point of view slightly to the two sides and render two separate images instead.
While talking to the people in the booths it was interesting to note that this will work with many older games with no modifications. Since almost all Windows games already use DirectX it’s not that difficult to do the modification to double render for them. It’s interesting to note what could go wrong though. 2D objects may not work properly, ‚ and similarly all Full Motion Video Sequences (FMV) are likely pre-rendered so will not work.
Overall I think the technology is pretty cool. And will love to play with it myself some more to see which games work with it, and which do not. Since it works with most Nvidia cards currently on the market, it’s also an accessible technology. The worst thing is that you have to probably buy a new LCD monitor. It’s also ironic that it works with older CRT’s more than the new tech, so for once, those who are technologically behind may have the advantage.