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World's First 3D Webcam Tested 124

Posted by timothy
from the didn't-like-the-others-they-were-all-too-flat dept.
CNETNate writes "The world's first 3D webcam not only takes anaglyphic images, but will let you have a stereoscopic 3D video chat over the Internet. It's the work of a unique camera called 'Minoru,' which has been tested and documented in a feature today. Be warned though: anaglyphic photography was clearly not invented to create comfortably-viewable videos."
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World's First 3D Webcam Tested

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  • 3D Webcam (Score:5, Funny)

    by Reason58 (775044) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @06:51PM (#28724093)
    Finally! My old, 2D webcam kept falling through the cracks in the floorboards.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ivucica (1001089)

      Don't know about the rest of you, but I don't find anything 3D about additive red+blue channel images, and I find any advertisement of a "3D movie" annoying. Unless it's holo -- as seen on Star Trek viewscreens -- then that's not 3D, plain and simple.

      And I also don't find anything innovative about this cam. How about "just" pairing two "regular" cams, and writing a virtual webcam driver that would merge the images into one? This Minoru is essentially the same thing, but packed in a £49.95 plast

      • by clang_jangle (975789) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @07:23PM (#28724413) Journal
        What you said is absolutely correct, including the UTF-8 part. And BTW, if you meant to invoke the voice of comic book guy without mentioning him, you totally succeeded. :)
      • +1, especially since you have to wear the stupid glasses anyways, why not just pair 2 normal cams (ooh challenging), and have your main product being special glasses with a screen in each 'lens', then the glasses have a focus setting, which sends back to the webcams to change their focal point. Or get a little more complex and have the glasses monitor the viewers eyes, and interpret the desired focal distance and angle by that, then you could actually "look around" as if you were there, (having the ability

        • by sumdumass (711423)

          Probably because glasses with screens in them do two things. First they give people headaches after prolonged use of them unless you can see through the images or the images are peripheral instead of the focal point. The second thing is that you wouldn't be able to see the keyboard or other things on the desk when using the glasses like a normal web cam. It might make a fun toy but would severely limit the applications.

          • by Khyber (864651)

            Actually, we can use the half-mirror sliver in a clear glass block like what you could find in old super-8 cameras to solve the problem of not being able to see the keyboard.

            Good luck on solving the headache issue, though. The only thing i've found to work is to actually have a visor and lens assembly bigger than the Virtual Boy, and then we'd introduce the problem of neck strain due to the weight of the unit.

            • and then we'd introduce the problem of neck strain due to the weight of the unit.

              Easy... just attach helium balloons to the front of the unit to offset the weight!

              • by Khyber (864651)

                I don't think I've laughed so hard in a while.

                We could always attach air jets to the helmet to force balance.

    • by iggymanz (596061)
      I'm holding out for a true 4D cam, with temporal persistence. those 2 and 3D ones are here one instant and gone the next.
    • by Jake73 (306340)

      Sorry, you cannot do 3D anaglyphics with a rolling shutter.

  • Possibilities (Score:2, Insightful)

    by theArtificial (613980)
    Amateur pornographers of the world rejoice.
  • Profit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by matchlight (609707) * on Thursday July 16, 2009 @06:57PM (#28724191)
    Step 1: build something
    Step 2: Figure out how to use it to make porn
    Step 3: make porn
    Step 4: Profit!
    • by ivucica (1001089)

      You missed a step.

      Step 3.5: ???

    • by gpronger (1142181)
      But 10 years down the line, once porn has worked out the bugs, and made the market big enough to drive the cost of the hardware down, it'll become common technology. So, though porn may have a lot of negatives, it does tend to allow the development of technologies based upon what a lot of horny SOB's are willing to pay.
      • though porn may have a lot of negatives

        This is good, it means you can make new prints if the old ones get ... ummm ... damaged.

    • Quote from Avenue Q, "In volatile market, the only stable investment is porn."
  • by jhfry (829244) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @07:00PM (#28724219)

    The problem with all 3d is that the lenses on the glasses must be calibrated to the colors on the display for optimal effect. For example if the images appear in the wrong shade of blue and red, you might begin to see both images in both eyes (no 3d).

    With a properly calibrated display and some good quality glasses I'd bet the effect is quite good.

    • by B Nesson (1153483) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @07:08PM (#28724291)
      Cross-eye and parallel-eye stereoscopic images don't have this problem.
      • by ceoyoyo (59147) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @07:10PM (#28724305)

        Also polarized light and shutter glasses 3D. But you need a projector for the first one. Okay, two projectors.

        • by Wingman 5 (551897)

          Also polarized light and shutter glasses 3D. But you need a projector for the first one. Okay, two projectors.

          Not really iz3d [iz3d.com] sells LCD monitors that will be polarized for each eye.

          • by ceoyoyo (59147)

            RIght you are. I forgot about those. That one is even reasonably priced. They don't say what the 3D resolution is though... probably half of what they quote as the resolution, which would make it 800x500ish.

            • by Wingman 5 (551897)

              No that is the full resolution however it requires that your card support dual monitors.

              • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                by Tacvek (948259)

                I'm guessing this works by having two liquid crystal layers.

                A liquid crystal layer has two states. in one state light passes through with no change to the polarization. In the other state, there is a 90 degree change in polarization.

                So take a bog standard LCD monitor. Add a large single segment liquid crystal layer to the front. So this new layer has just one giant pixel, making it very inexpensive. (In reality for performance reasons you would probably use multiple smaller segments, but you don't need anyw

                • by Larryish (1215510)

                  Now imagine that you have an ordinary house-cat, and two jars of marmalade.

                  You look at the house-cat first through one jar of marmalade, and then through another jar of marmalade, and then some bloody bastard named Shodillinger or something poisons the bloody house-cat with a hammer and a box.

                  How rude.

      • Neither does real life.
    • The problem with all 3d is that the lenses on the glasses must be calibrated to the colors on the display

      Slow down, cowboy...

      There's many ways in which you can present stereographic content. Personally I prefer the side-by-side method as it allows for full color and no special display; and then specifically the cross-eyed method. This does take up twice the horizontal space; though for most webcam purposes you could re-orient the camera so that it records in a portrait projection, and you'd lose much less

      • by MrMr (219533)
        the entire world appearing to fade between red/blue or red/green or cyan/magenta, etc. in front of you in swirly clouds of freakiness.
        People pay good money for that around here. So what's your problem?
    • by timeOday (582209)

      The problem with all 3d is that the lenses on the glasses must be calibrated to the colors on the display for optimal effect. For example if the images appear in the wrong shade of blue and red, you might begin to see both images in both eyes (no 3d).

      The problem with red/blue glasses is you are sacrificing 2 dimensions to gain 1 back. The ones you lose are two of the three dimensions in human visual color space; the one you gain is depth. (Actually it seems wrong that you'd have to sacrifice 2 to get 1,

  • I just tried this with some old 3d glasses I had laying around and it looks like the cameras get out of sync when it moves around. Especially when the camera swings over people, you see those ghost images of the person in one eye.
    • by citizenr (871508)
      hell, I can see it desyncs with no glasses at all, red is all over the place when something moves fast.
  • Because everyone will have to be using 3d glasses.

    Unless you make the 3d glasses somewhat invisible to the 3D camera and... ow my head!!

  • by QRDeNameland (873957) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @07:08PM (#28724287)
    ..or does Minoru [cnet.co.uk] look like the mutant love-child of Number 5 from Short Circuit and Stewie from Family Guy?
    • It was just you until you mentioned it.

      Where's the brillo pad? I need to scour out my eyes.
    • by EdIII (1114411) *

      Man that is one home video of the honeymoon night I *don't* want to see.................

  • by FlyingSquidStudios (1031284) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @07:20PM (#28724383) Homepage
    Then they started putting out all these animated films in 3-D- Robots, Beowulf, Up, etc. And I kept paying the extra to see the 3-D versions. Something kept bothering me though. Then, in the middle of Up, I realized what it was: after about 10 minutes, I stopped noticing that it was 3-D at all. I mean, if you get really absorbed in a movie, you don't need it to be 3-D anyway... and frankly, 3-D images never look three dimensional like they do in the real world. They have an otherworldly quality that seems, at least to me, in some ways less natural than 2-D images. Maybe it's that they don't define the subtleties of the true three dimensional world well enough, I don't know. Half the time it almost seems like I'm looking at one of those paper cut-out toy theatres where there's several levels of depth, but everything on each level is flat and it's only the levels themselves that are spaced apart. Am I the only one who feels this way?
    • by Orion (3967)

      I actually thought that the fact that you forget it is 3D was a big plus.... they don't make it in your face, but it is a nice addition to the film. Eventually you just don't notice it anymore, but it still makes a difference.

    • No, I agree with you. While I sort of like the 3D movies, I find myself removing the glasses frequently for two reasons. One, is the one you mentioned. The other is for some reason, my eyes water when I watch these movies. Instantly, as soon as the 3D actually starts, my eyes water. The first time I thought it was my allergies, but the next time we watched two movies back to back, and the first wasn't 3D, and my eyes were fine. As soon as we went into the second theater and I put the glasses on my eyes star

    • by Animaether (411575) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @07:47PM (#28724617) Journal

      There's several reasons why you may not find them all that '3D'...

      starting with the obvious: it's not 3D, it's stereographic. We still call that '3D' because you get depth cues from it and depth would be the third dimension.

      also obvious: when you move your head, the perspective doesn't change. For 2D, your brain doesn't care so much* as it's been trained in seeing 2D images since you were born. Stereographic images however do fool your brain into getting a depth cue, and it assumes that because it gets depth cues, you should be able to get a different perspective by moving your head. This confusion fades after a short while (depends on the person), but it'll always be there. The worst thing is.. your eyes jitter, even if you keep your head perfectly still, your eyes will still be bouncing all over the place - with minute movements, but your brain still expects the minute differences in perspective it's used to from actual 3D environments.

      less obvious: you get depth cues of, say, an object being up close... something silly like the sword in Beowulf... right at you through the screen. You look at it, essentially crossing your eyes a little like you would any object that gets closer to you.. but now something funny happens. Your eyes, when they cross, by virtue of the brain will try to focus at a depth of the intersection point of your two eyes*. However, the film is not -actually- 3D.. so you're at the mercy of whatever focus the film's producer decided upon. So if that tip of the sword is squarely out of focus, your brain sits there wondering what the $&#* is going on. This effect is not so pronounced for surfaces further away (much like a focal distance on your camera of 15m will happily cover 14m and 16m as well, and far beyond those; while a macro shot at 2cm distance requires very careful positioning of your camera's distance to the subject to get the correct part in focus... e.g. photographing an insect and trying to get its head, rather than some leg in focus) - but at the same time, depth cues get much less pronounced as surfaces get further away - simply as they converge with perspective.

      There's a few other reasons, including keystoning of the projection (when seeing a stereographic 3D feature, try to sit as close to the center of the screen when projected out to the seating as possible), but the above are the main three.

      It bugs me as well, but for some movies it's absolutely worth seeing the '3D' version.

      * This is also the main reason why some people have issues trying to see side-by-side type stereographic images. Getting your eyes to see a surface at one distance (depending on how much you have to cross your eyes to make the two images overlap), while the lenses of each eye focus on another distance (the display surface) can be unnatural and some people simply never get it happening for them.

      For kicks.. close your left eye, now with your right eye, try to focus on a nearer distance (without cheating using another surface). Do the same with the right eye closed and left eye open. If you can do this, you can probably watch side-by-side stereographic images (of the cross-eye method) easily.
      Now for your brain kicking in.. open both eyes, and try again. You'll find this difficult at best and impossible at worst - without, in fact, going cross-eyed.

      Human visual system is fun - and that's without going into any optical illusion stuff :)

      • Thanks for the detailed explanation. I don't have any mod points, but if I did, you'd be getting 'insightful' from me.
      • I can actually do that. Might be because at one point I took these classes that involved doing stereograms with increasing distance between the images to try and help my epilepsy or something.

        Huh. I just found that I can move my eye's focus up and down individually (or at least reverse the movement for each eye).
        I wonder if I could get my eyes to swivel around like The End...

        I now have a migraine. Experiment aborted.

      • I've been trying to do this last thing a lot! You see, I have slight myopia, not enough to warrant contacts or glasses, and my vision is fine to pass the driving test in Washington state -- but I would like to be able to get full 20/20 at least when focussing on a specific object sometimes. I've long thought that this decoupling of focus and vergence is the answer, but I didn't know if it was possible. I occasionally practise, but without knowing that it's possible, I haven't been very regular about it.
    • by DavidD_CA (750156)

      No you're not alone.

      It's basically the Uncanny Valley theory, applied to 3D animation instead.

      A compelling movie doesn't *need* to be seen in 3D. If it has a great plot, etc, then you'll enjoy it. I don't think any amount of technology will ever change that.

      Still, when this technology ultimately comes to research and games it will really change things.

    • I wouldn't call any of the recent 3-D any more 3-D than original DOOM, I'd refer to it as 2.5-D. Just because the images come out of the screen isn't any different unless the entirety does, like a holograph.
    • I hate those 3D movies. Mainly because they look exactly the same as the 2D movies because I have amblyopia, but I have to wear the annoying glasses over my regular glasses. I went to see Up in 3D as everyone else I was going with wanted to. Last time I'm doing that, it takes a lot of the enjoyment out of the movie. I remember hearing these 3D TV shows being advertised as a kid and being confused as I thought everything was already in 3D.
      The local theater scheduled significantly more showings of the 3D ver
      • Like you, I also get annoyed with red/green faux 3D because it doesn't work for me, so I've never been able to enjoy 3D comic books or TV shows even though I can see 3D in the real world. I had an injury in my recessive eye making my vision in that eye blurry. Yet the vision in the dominant eye is normal. That's why I'm able to see normally when walking around because the fine details come from the dominant eye whereas the recessive eye just fills in the stereo/perspective details.

        Red is more difficult for

  • LiveJasmin has had 3D cameras for a few months now. (http://www.livejasmin.com/listpage.php?tags=girl+3dcam&type=40) [NSFW]

  • At least when converted to youtube the red and blue image wasn't even in-sync.

    Perhaps a whole new compression algorithm.

    The problem is the human senses are very sensitive to subtle changes - everything from phase changes in audio to things like frame sync. The original full motion simulator guys figured it out when they missed the motion tracking to video image by a frame or two - everyone got sick. Instant sea sickness.

    All in all.

  • by xZgf6xHx2uhoAj9D (1160707) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @07:32PM (#28724495)
    Am I missing something, or is this just two ordinary webcams that superimpose their images onto one another? Why did it take so long for someone to duct tape 2 cameras together?
    • This is in no way the first.

      My University has had a room set up for 3D videoconferencing for over 5 years.

      We haven't actually put the pieces together in a way that could be called videoconferencing, but we have a pair of projectors with polarized filters and a pair of cameras bolted together that we take 3D video with and roll out when we need something to show off to parents, prospective students, donors, etc.

      Of course, figuring out the right way to put the two images together usually requires a bit of edi

    • Not exactly world's first. Sun Microsystems had an incredible demo about 12 years ago that involved an array of live web cams. The user's view would shift when they moved their head side to side. You could almost look around objects. They used LCD shutter glasses for the 3D view.

    • by EkriirkE (1075937)
      No, you got it. I happen to have red/cyan glasses on my desk and it seems the two cameras aren't even in sync (noticed when panning)

      Oh, and that girl still looks flat.
    • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

      by syousef (465911)

      Am I missing something, or is this just two ordinary webcams that superimpose their images onto one another? Why did it take so long for someone to duct tape 2 cameras together?

      You missed something: the marketing hype. No it didn't take this long to do stereographic video.

    • by Yvanhoe (564877)
      Because no one wanted to step on these "did I get fat ?" discussions with tools to actually have an objective measurement.
    • by mzs (595629)

      I thought I had heard about a technique where a single camera could use rapidly changing the focal length to produce an image with depth information. The rationale I think was for removing the looking into the screen not the camera aspect of web cams. Does anyone remember anything about that?

  • In the grand tradition of webcams, shouldn't the first 3D webcam have been a static shot of a coffee maker [wikipedia.org]? I mean really.

    Bah.
  • by kramulous (977841) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @09:57PM (#28725461)

    Clearly I had to break out my red-blue anaglyph glasses and damn that video made my eyes and brain hurt.

    The playback software has some glitches in it (not a youtube playback thing) because one image would freeze while the other eye would continue playing. They really need to fix that. The ad popup thing in youtube didn't help either.

    It was good but a gimmick at best. Plus all my work colleagues looked at me weird with the glasses on until they realise what the hell I was doing. Then they came over for a gander. Who's cool now?

    • I wonder whether the hardware creates the anaglyph or whether the device actually appears as two separate cameras. I have tried to use two USB cameras simultaneously before and it's a nightmare. The images are not synchronised and some software drivers block one camera or the other.

  • You also need a quadraphonic sound to make sure it is really 3D.

    Then I just imagine videoconference: folks in these funky eyeglasses seeing each other, trying to recognize who is who and talking from where...

  •   I had my Livecam product doing this in 1996! www.livecamserver.com

    Stereo video is nothing new, and anaglyphic video is terrible.

    There are some excellent stereo video codecs that have been developed over the years, I even experimented with a few designs.

  • by FirstTimeCaller (521493) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @11:41PM (#28725895)
    Using it to produce 3D video seems gimmicky and, as someone pointed out, who wants to look at everybody wearing 3D glasses? I think a better use would be to use the two cameras to allow calculation of distances and then replace everything beyond a certain distance. Sort of a green screen effect but without the green screen. Now that would be useful (and cool).
    • by spazdor (902907)

      Now you're talking. A bit of video-analyzing CPU muscle with these things could mean a webcam that senses Z-axis.

      You could drop a virtual greenscreen at a fixed Z plane, like you suggest, or you could point the camera around your room, analyze its layout and clone it into your Second Life house (or whatever the hell the kids are up to these days) as a 3d mesh. Avatars could be made from a few stereo photos of your face.

      And oh my god, the porn.

  • Methinks (Score:2, Funny)

    by xednieht (1117791)
    Big tits will become immensely popular.... again
  • Anaglyph stereo requires two different images. These are taking two identical ones and shifting one of them a bit to one side. This does not work.

    For instance, in the video, look at the table's border. You'll see how the red border is the same thickness, from the part that's closest to the viewer to the part that is furthest.

    Compare this with an image that does it right [mtbs3d.com]. Notice how the difference between the left and right eye changes depending on distance. You can clearly see in the stairs how the red and

  • I've had Strabismus [wikipedia.org] (wall eyed version) my whole life. Maybe I'm missing something (you insensitive clod) but I get the impression this 3D Imagery stuff is just a gimmick, as I seem to do just fine judging distance without it. Still it probably gave a survival advantage at one time else why bother? Maybe it was just advantages to have a backup eye and the binocular ability came along from that, anyone know of research on that?

  • Linux and OSX? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by OrangeTide (124937) on Friday July 17, 2009 @02:02AM (#28726499) Homepage Journal

    How long must I wait for OSX or Linux drivers for this thing? Should I just give up and make my own V4L filter that can color shift and merge two webcams into one? (should be easy, but do I want to glue to cameras together that badly)

    • It's a standard USB video device, so already works on Linux. All you need is software to create an anaglyph image from the two cameras.
      • I'm not so confident that is the case. Is it a video device with two end points? two devices? are you certain it uses the standard encodings, I have a few USB cameras that Linux still doesn't support because they are weird.

        • It's supported by the usbvideo driver on linux, and appears as two separate devices. As far as I know that's exactly what it is - two separate cameras with a USB hub built into the case. The anaglyph image is generated entirely in the Windows software. I'm working on adding that to fswebcam at the moment.

          • I would have made it one device with two end points, which is the USB sort of way of doing it. two devices is a bit of a hack, although drivers already exist for that scenario. Windows seems really bad in general at handling multiple end points with certain types of devices (but I don't think cameras are one of them).

  • All I can picture in my head is two executives on opposites sides of the world both looking like tools with coloured goggles on their heads - and having the whole thing on camera (I would "accidentally" record the video conference call).

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