As we've seen over the past few years, NVIDIA isn't content with simply doing what has been done well. Certainly their graphics cards are good at what they do and competition in the market is great today delivering amazing value to consumers. But they've forged ahead with initiatives like SLI for multi-GPU rendering and CUDA for general purpose programing on GPU. Now they're taking it a step further and getting into stereoscopic 3D.

To be fair, NVIDIA has supported stereoscopic 3D for a long time, but this is more of a push to get pervasive stereoscopic graphics into the consumer space. Not only will NVIDIA graphics cards support stereoscopic rendering, they will also be enhancing their driver to extract depth information and create left and right eye images for applications that do not natively produce or support stereo rendering. And did we mention they'll also be selling active wireless shutter glasses?

Packaged as GeForce 3D Vision, NVIDIA's shutter glasses and transmitter pair will run consumers a respectable $200. This is more expensive than some glasses and cheaper than others. We actually don't have any other glasses in house to compare them to, but the quality, freedom and battery life are quite good. If it becomes necessary, we will do a comparison with other products, but the real advantage isn't really in the hardware; it's in the driver. The package also comes with a soft bag and cloth for the glasses, alternate nose pieces, cables and converters, and a couple disks with drivers, stereoscopic photo viewer and video player.

Stereoscopic 3D shutter glasses have been around since the late 90s, but with the push away from CRTs to LCDs with a fixed 60Hz refresh rate meant that high quality stereoscopic viewing on the desktop had to be put on hold (along with hopes for smaller pixels sizes, but that's a whole other rant). With Hollywood getting really interested in 3D movies and some display manufacturers getting on board with 120Hz monitors, TVs and projectors, it makes sense that we would see someone try to push this back to the forefront.

Before we get into just how NVIDIA wants to make stereoscopic 3D on the desktop a reality, lets take a look at exactly what we're talking about.

More 3D than 3D: Stereoscopic Defined
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  • fishbits - Thursday, January 08, 2009 - link

    "What we really need, rather than a proprietary solution, is something like stereoscopic support built in to DirectX and OpenGL that developers can tap into very easily."
    Would be nice, but whatever works and is actually implemented.

    Nvidia could come up with a "3d glasses thumbs-up" seal of approval for games that get it right, and it could be displayed on the packaging. This would furter encourage developers to get on board. Heck, NV could have traveling demo rigs that sit in a Gamestop/Best Buy for a week, playing games that have superior compliance. Good for sales of the game(s), good for sales of the glasses.

    I've done the old shutter glasses, was a neat novelty, but wears thin as Derek says. Sounds like these are currently only a bit better with current titles in most cases. *IF* they get this right and all major titles released support the system well, I'd buy the glasses right away. The new monitor too. But they have to get it right first.

    This might work for the next generation of consoles too, albeit if hooked up to a high-refresh monitor possibly. Great selling point, another reason to get this right and off the ground. Of course Sony/Nintendo/MS might just make their own solution, but whatever gets the job done. If only one had this feature implemented well, it could be a big tie-breaker in winning sales to their camp.
    Reply
  • Judgepup - Thursday, January 08, 2009 - link

    Been waiting for the next revolution in gaming and after all the bugs have been worked out, this looks like it could be a contender. I'm typically an early adopter, but I'm fairly happy with a physical reality LCD at this point. Will wait in the wings on this one, but I applaud the Mighty nVidia for taking this tech to the next level. Reply
  • Holly - Thursday, January 08, 2009 - link

    Although I am great supporter of 3Ding of virtual worlds, there are really huge drawbacks in this technology nVidia presented.

    First of all, the reason why LCDs did not need to keep as high refresh rate as CRTs was the fact that LCD screen intensity doesn't go from wall to wall - 100% intensity to 0% intensity before another refresh (the way of CRT). This intensity fluctuation is what hurts our eyes. LCDs keep their intensity much more stable (some say their intensity is totaly stable, though I have seen some text describing there is some minor intensity downfall with LCDs as well, can't find it though). Back back on topic... we either went 100Hz+ or LCD to save our eyes.

    Even if we ignore software related problems there is still problem... The flickering is back. Even if the screen picture is intensity stable these shutter glasses make the intensity go between 0-100% and we are back to days of old 14" screens and good way to get white staff sooner or later. Even if we have 120Hz LCDs, every eye has to go with 60Hz pretty much same as old CRTs. This just won't work. For longer use (gaming etc.) you really need 85Hz+ of flickering not to damage your eyes.

    Another point I am curious about is how the GeForce 3D Vision counts in screen latency. It's not that long AT presented review of few screens with some minor whine about S-PVA latency coming way up to like 40ms. Thing is this latency could very easily cause that the frame that was supposed for left eye gets received by right eye and vice versa. I can imagine nausea superfast TM out of that (kind of effect when you drink too much and those stupid eyes just can't both focus on one thing).

    I believe this stereoscopy has a future, but I don't believe it would be with shutter glasses or other way to switch 'seeing' eye and 'blinded' eye.
    Reply
  • PrinceGaz - Thursday, January 08, 2009 - link

    The answer is simple, move from LCD technology to something faster, like OLED or SED (whatever happened to SED?).

    Both of those technologies are quite capable of providing a true 200hz refresh that truly changes the display every time (not just changes the colour a bit towards something else). A 200hz display refresh (and therefore 100hz per eye refresh) should be fast enough for almost anyone, and most people won't have a problem with 170hz display (85hz flickering per eye).

    I do think 120hz split between two eyes would quite quickly give me a serious headache as when I used a CRT monitor in the past and had to look at the 60hz refresh before installing the graphics-card driver, it was seriously annoying.
    Reply
  • Rindis - Friday, January 09, 2009 - link

    "A 200hz display refresh (and therefore 100hz per eye refresh) should be fast enough for almost anyone, and most people won't have a problem with 170hz display (85hz flickering per eye)."

    Almost is the key word here. I'm okay with 75Hz CRTs unless I'm staring at a blank white screen (Word), and by 85 I'm perfectly fine.

    However, my roommate trained as a classical animator (which means hours of flipping through almost identical drawings) and could perceive CRT refresh rates up to about 115Hz. (She needed expensive monitors and graphics cards....) Which would demand a 230+Hz rate for this technology.
    Reply
  • paydirt - Friday, January 09, 2009 - link

    It's strange. I definitely notice when a CRT has a 60 Hz refresh rate. I have been gaming with a 29" LCD with 60 Hz refresh rate for about 4 years now and don't notice the refresh rate. Reply
  • DerekWilson - Friday, January 09, 2009 - link

    That's because the CRT blanks while the LCD stays on. With an LCD panel, every refresh the color changes from what it was to what it is. With a CRT, by the time the electron gun comes around every 60Hz, the phosphorus has dimmed even if it hasn't gone completely dark. 60Hz on a CRT "flashes" while 60Hz on an LCD only indicates how many times per second the color of each pixel is updated. Reply
  • SlyNine - Thursday, January 08, 2009 - link

    Yes but LCD's have ghosting, unless you can purge that image completely the right eye would see a ghost of the left eye. If you ever looked at the stills from testing LCD ghosting, you will see that even the best LCD's ghosts last for 2 frames.

    The best TV I can think of to use this with is the 7000$ Laser TV from Mitsubishi.

    Why can they not use dual videocards for this, Have one frame buffer be the left eye and the other be the right, then even if the car has yet to finish rendering the other image just flip to the last fully rendered frame.
    Reply
  • Holly - Thursday, January 08, 2009 - link

    I think the result would be quite bad. You could easily end up in situation where one eye card runs 50 FPS while other eye card would be on 10FPS (even with the same models... the different placement of camera might invalidate big part of octree causing the FPS difference. Not sure how the brain would handle such a difference between two frames, but I think not well... Reply
  • SlyNine - Thursday, January 08, 2009 - link

    You know what, I skimmed every thing you wrote, and rereading it I realize the error I made.

    My bad.
    Reply

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