Published in Graphics

Hacks line up to try out Nvidia's 3D Vision

by on06 March 2009

Cebit 2009: Nobody can resist the allure of true 3D gaming


3D Vision gaming is a form of entertainment we just couldn't resist. We tried out Race Driver Gold and Assassin's Creed, and both games look excellent, but we believe that more than 250 games currently listed on Nvidia's support page would look a lot better in 3D.

This is not a new technology, but Nvidia chose to finally try and push it to average consumers. Nvidia's 3D hardware basically consists of 3D glasses which are needed to enjoy 3D in its full glory. However, the glasses themselves aren't the problem. At the moment the price and availability of monitors capable of supporting 3D Vision is a major hurdle to mass adoption of 3D Vision.

Implementing 3D Vision in games is not a hard task, and most modern games can support it without much trouble. All we need is a monitor capable of more than 100Hz, a fresh Geforce card with 3D drivers and Nvidia's 3D glasses. Once you turn on 3D, your screen starts displaying two very similar pictures, slightly offset on the horizontal plane, so without the glasses you just see everything double, and blurry. The 3D glasses are used to block out images meant for your left or right eye, which creates a sense of depth. Basically, technology plays a trick on your brain, and you perceive objects in depth, like you do in real life, although you're just seeing two 2D images. The average human's pupils are just 64mm apart, and it's those 64mm that give us depth perception.

For those who have never tried 3D vision, you can probably easily see what we're on about if you focus on the palm of your hand, and try closing either of your eyes. True, you'll still see just fine, but you will loose depth perception, at least to some extent. If you're into sports, just imagine how your ball game would look without depth perception. One other aspect of 3D is the fact that once you focus on a nearby object, the background is not only blurred, but it is once again offset horizontally, which adds to the effect. We have had depth of field in computer graphics for a while now, but without 3D glasses, and with 3D vision turned on, you just get a single blurred image in the background, whereas with 3D you get the real life effect.

Today's games are already in 3D, and hardware already renders 3D geometry with true Z coordinates, but as we use 2D monitors, it is impossible to display it as 3D. The 3D scene, or should we say the geometry in the scene, must be adjusted prior to rendering, and everything we're not supposed to see is clipped, not rendered on the final image. So, we already have everything we need to render games in genuine 3D, apart from display technology. By simply moving, or offsetting the viewpoint along the horizontal and isolating the left and right images by the glasses, we can simulate 3D on a 2D panel, and get back the third dimension we'd normally loose. Nvidia is also readying 3D video players and image viewers, so down the road all this could prove to be interesting for a lot of consumers, not just gamers.

A word about the glasses that make all this possible. First of all, there's nothing magic or complicated about them. The main thing is to have them synced to the PC, and this is done via an infrared connection, courtesy of a small transmitter is plugged into the USB drive, which also doubles as a battery charger for the glasses. As you can see, the technology behind the glasses is not mind boggling, which is a good thing, as more simplicity means lower prices and faster market adoption.

Combining Nvidia's 3D technology with PhsyX or certain CUDA applications could offer even more in terms of realism and potential uses for the new technology.

Last modified on 06 March 2009
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