3D Media – Traumatized Tech That Gets No Respect Part 2

Part II of II – The Allure Of Active 3D

In Part I of this article the deficiencies of current 3D Tech were discussed with the focus on passive entertainment. This time let’s look at what could turn out to be the advent of a permanent technological toehold for 3D entertainment… Active 3D.

One of the big drawbacks of 3D not yet mentioned is the diversity of home platforms people have. Monitors and TVs came in all different sizes, resolutions, responsiveness, and luminance. Each one has a direct impact on the 3D experience.  One person’s experience on a 23 inch monitor can not equal that of another who has a 50 inch plus one. In 3D media, bigger is definitely better.

Passive glasses versus active shutter glasses approach 3D differently. LCD versus LED versus the dying out plasma displays all have their own strengths and weaknesses. Viewer’s vision reacts differently to all these combinations which can lead to ghosting or blurred 3D images. Given all these variables in what has become a plug and play world,it’s no wonder that 3D TV sales have stalled once again.

I consider myself above average technically capable but, even after surfing forums collecting information and comparing notes with others, still had a tough time piecing together the necessary components to achieve a satifsfying 3D experience. Through luck and perserverance I ended up with a 67 inch Samsung DLP LED with DLP Link active shutter glasses that gives me an awesome 3D viewing and gaming experience. Running games with my PS3, PS4, or home PC using a NVidia GTX670 card and using either NVidia’s 3DTV Play or TriDef’s software rocks! Rarely any ghosting and the sense of immersion during gaming experiences is unparalleled. But to get there is more than the average consumer should have, or is willing, to bear.

There is new tech on the horizon that could potentially simplify and help to standardize the 3D home experience. The Oculus Rift and Sony’s Morpheus Project. Both technologies would bring the home user to using a visor type of display. Granted the use of a visor is still a hindrance but this time the pluses may be enough to sway more consumers.


A visor approach gives the user the illusion of a much larger display as it fills their whole field of vision. This also allows for a more persistent and uniform illusion.  With the addition of headphones, built-in or add-on, the immersiveness of the illusion is further deepened. It is too optimistic to foresee these two technologies gaining mass acceptance after – and if – they launch, but with the right killer game or application the possibility for establishing a permanent market for 3D interactive entertainment could finally be attained.

The Oculus Rift has been in the news for a couple of years now after getting a successful Kickstarter launch in 2012.  Initially it had all the media buzz but that has been lost. It’s been over two years and the Rift is still going through refinements and a HD upgrade. Back in March of 2014 it was announced that Facebook had bought the company. That acquisition has been seen as a mixed blessing. Yes, the Rift has way more backing behind now but how well will Facebook keep from interfering and/or diverting the focus of the Rift which should stay on games? The type of applications Facebook foresees for the Rift are years down the road.

On the positive front, it has just been revealed this week that a public beta is being planned for rollout next April 2015. This is great news especially in light of Sony’s dropping their hat into the 3D ring when they announced their own product – Project Morpheus back in March of 2014 at the GDC. Another company vying for consumer attention can only be a good thing.  Competition drives innovation and pushes developers to go that extra mile.

While the Rift has been basking in the media spotlight it feels like Sony has been quietly going about their Morpheus business waiting until they were either at the same level or further level of development. The units displayed at the 2014 GDC were pretty polished, consumer friendly looking units running at full 1080p HD. Sony has obviously put in some forethought here as the unit integrates into the PS4 hardware infrastructure making use of their camera and motion controls.


Sony is being cagey about when they plan to release Morpheus but sometime in 2015 is not unlikely. Developing a virtual headset for a console is a mixed bag. On the one hand having a standardized hosting platform, ie the PS4, reduces the complexity of developing for it. But the PS4, next gen as it maybe, cannot match the graphical horsepower of current gaming PCs. Nor can it be boosted to meet the more than likely greater demands of future games.

Another annoyance is that the Morpheus headset as best I can determine is restricted to the PS4. Ideally it would enhance the product’s viability if it could also be used for PC gaming. And there is no way that Sony is going to allow the Oculus Rift to being compatible with the PS4. So hardcore 3D gamers are probably looking at having to buy two headsets. Something that would limit the adoption rate of either headset when you are looking at roughly $400 a pop for each of them.

So while there is some hope for the increased viability of 3D gaming the road is filled with technological potholes. The confusion these two headsets could create coming out close to one another could cause both to fail. It could be another Beta versus VHS or HD-DVD versus Blu-Ray face off with only one victor with the general populace letting the early adopters decided the battle. There is also the further mixed message to consumers with TV manufacturers dropping 3D support – and focusing on other new tech tricks such as curved screens and 4K resolution.

While the dropping of 3D TV support seems like a blow with 3D gaming, I think this is actually a blessing in disguise. Right now with our current technology – visor type 3D displays is where the short term future lies. Not until room display technology – a la holodeck – is possible and affordable will shared 3D viewing take off. So any inroads that can make visors ubiquitous, comfortable and cheap would be most welcome.

As noted before, 3D comes and goes like the tide but this time we may only be one tech wave away from achieving permanence. In the short term – Hail the Visor!