It has been approximately 10 years since playing my first 3D game on a PC. Unfortunately, it must have not left a lasting impression, since the only memories I actually have of it are that I spent some money to purchase some software and used a pair of anaglyphic glasses. There were quite a few things that made the experience less than memorable. I had a hard time getting the software to work and when it did, there were times it appeared the overlay would disappear. It also had a lack of depth, everything appeared to look flat and almost cartoon like. These weren’t actually the major disappointments, what the experience lacked the most is that I don’t have any memories of objects appearing to protrude from the screen. When someone mentions 3D, my thoughts are objects that pop out of the screen causing you to flinch or reach out and grab, while the depth encompasses you, giving the impression that you are actually part of the action.
In January of 2009, NVIDIA announced and rolled out a new type of 3D gaming called 3D Vision. Prior to reading a press release, or actually seeing it work, I was skeptical. I remember telling a few friends “Here we go again, just another anaglyphic overlay with no real punch.” That statement couldn’t have been further from the truth. NVIDIA actually put time into the project and must have spent tremendous amounts on R&D. NVIDIA 3D Vision was an actual ecosystem, which included hardware (Monitor and Glasses and IR Emitter) and software (Geforce Drivers), without having to purchase anything additional, as long as you owned an NVIDIA graphics card.
The original 3D Vision was a memorable experience. The desktop version included a 22” LCD monitor, which utilized a 120Hz refresh rate that supported up to 60 FPS while gaming via a dual link DVI cable. The 3D glasses contained active shutter lenses which are transparent but darken when voltage is sent through them. These glasses are controlled by an IR emitter which alternates the shutter on each lens, creating the illusion of three dimensions, commonly known as stereoscopy.
With any new technology comes some hitches, and it did take a few months for game developers to jump aboard and implement 3D, which left me with some concerns about future gaming usage. The monitors were still in their infancy and although the gaming experience was memorable, there was some ghosting and flutter of the screen during gameplay and, based on its 16 x 10 resolution, there was no chance of playing a game in full HD. Although there were flaws, the experience out weighed them, playing games in 3D was taken to a new level of depth and became encompassing.
It was back in July of 2010 when I received my first 3D monitor that was capable of full HD. I consider these the second generation monitors, due to the advances in LCD technology and amount of supported games. The first thing I noticed was that the ghosting and flutter had diminished, while the depth had become sharper. Surely a better overall experience, and game developers had begun to take advantage of the technology with games that were 3D compatible, straight out of the box. I didn’t find myself sitting around waiting for patches as often. Well, the biggest flaw (IMHO) was not corrected and that was the inability to clearly see my keyboard while using the 3D ecosystem. The active shutter lenses opened and closed too frequently (which caused darkness) making it almost impossible to clearly see the keys, even with a backlit keyboard. Why were we having this problem? My best guess was either the monitor wasn’t bright enough or, quite possibly, the synchronization between the monitor, IR emitter and glasses were not quite right. Much has changed in the year and a half since NVIDIA rolled out its second generation monitors. On October 14th 2011, NVIDIA announced 3D Vision 2, which has addressed many of the issues mentioned with the prior generation of 3D Vision.
NVIDIA 3D Vision 2 has promise in providing a more advanced 3D ecosystem than its predecessor. NVIDIA 3D Vision 2 introduces second generation active shutter lenses, which synchronize with both the IR emitter and monitor, allowing more light into the lens providing a clearer image, as well improved peripheral and outward vision. The lenses of the glasses have been widened by 20% and have been redesigned to block out more external light. Another upgrade to 3D Vision 2 would be the third generation monitor, which is now LED backlit and includes lightboost technology. Lightboost enhances the visual display, increasing visibility and allowing 3D images to appear crisper, brighter and more realistic. When combined as a package, the consumer will have increased visual acuity which in turn will enhance their 3D experience, whether it be looking a pictures, watching a movie or gaming.