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3-D Monitors From Actual Depth 192

Klenex writes "True 3-D Visual Effects w/o the use of annoying '3-d' glasses or stereograms. Actual Depth "The Actual Depth monitor is actually two LCD displays stacked on top of each other. The LCD on top displays white transparently, so you can see through to the display beneath it, which is opaque." You need a dual head card or a 2nd video card to drive each display but this seems incredibly cool and it will work with any OS which supports dual monitors w/o any other hardware. Here's TechTV's scoop on the new technology. They even have a link to contact them about a demo in your area. I'd love to see one of these in action even though chances are I would never be able to afford one. Prices start around 6 grand, quite steep."
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3-D Monitors From Actual Depth

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  • Whatever happened to just a plain ol' 14 inch CRT and a pair of those 3D glasses from 7-11 back in the day?
    • The writeup described the 3d glasses idea as `annoying` although its surely not as annoying as having to spend thousands on new untested technology. Given that my cd writer lasted just over a year before becoming infinitely fussy about which cds it wrote to, i`ll be damned if i`m going to be an early adopter on this nonsense. 3D will always be a gimmick, anyway. Games will be nice, but i cant see how it will ever be standard on the desktop.
      • "but i cant see how it will ever be standard on the desktop."

        12 years ago, I sold Amiga computers that boasted full color GUI interfaces for the OS.

        There were many "IBM Users" with EGA and DOS Shell coming in saying things like: "Well..... I don't need THAT!"

        These same kind of people come in years later with the "Hey, look what I can do with my computer" attitude when Windows becomes popular. You Mac users know what I'm talking about.

        There will be the 'killer app' for this technology before you know it. It just might not be anything any of us can think of right now. I personally forsee 3D TV. The computer desktop is slowly becoming a media center anyway.

        • 12 years ago i was writing games for the Amiga.

          I didnt get a PC because they were shit. I still think they are shit, but i get paid more to code for them than i did for the PC.

          I doubt that a 3d desktop will make computer haters hate them less, and i doubt they`ll make them more productive than 2d gui`s - or text based interfaces.
  • Two layers? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by lxmeister ( 570131 )
    Two layers doesn't seem very deep. Wouldn't it take a few more to create something resembling 3 dimensions?
    • Re:Two layers? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Foss ( 248146 )
      It's the white transparency on the first layer that'll sort this out. If something is supposed to look closer to you, it'll be made lighter by the nearer screen. If it's further away it'll be darker.
    • Re:Two layers? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by pubjames ( 468013 ) on Thursday April 04, 2002 @06:38AM (#3283273)
      Two layers doesn't seem very deep. Wouldn't it take a few more to create something resembling 3 dimensions?

      It is amazing how effective parallax (a simple animation technique where planes further away move more slowly than closer planes) is at creating a 3D feeling. It would be even more effective on this type of monitor.

      I think this could be extremely effective for fast games, although I agree that two planes probably isn't enough. Three might do it though.
    • The effect is surprisingly good. I saw one of these at Siggraph (or a variant of it), and not only was the depth effect pretty nice, but it had a nice interface too.

      The one I used was touch sensitive and you could drag windows into the background layer. I remember thinking from the demo I had that I'd have no trouble making use of both layers.

      I got to see other '3D' displays at Siggraph, and they were PATHETIC. Either the 3D effect required a little bit of imagination (i.e. it was distorted), or it required glasses. The two layer approach, though its only 2 layers, was very clean and didn't cause a headache.

      I'd easily take it over the other '3D' displays they had, with the plus side that it is touch sensitive too.
  • by ZaneMcAuley ( 266747 ) on Thursday April 04, 2002 @06:11AM (#3283192) Homepage Journal
    My monitor is already 3D, it is a huge 3D box.

  • by NWT ( 540003 )
    Oh that 17inch monitor looks really cool, but what about the price? I'd say it's at least 2x the price of a normal 17" TFT, and that's too much for home use.
    • Re:Cost? (Score:2, Informative)

      by larien ( 5608 )
      It's not really for home use yet (give it a few years and it might become standard), and the article lists a price of $6,000.
  • Drool... (Score:4, Funny)

    by l810c ( 551591 ) on Thursday April 04, 2002 @06:13AM (#3283197)
  • CRT? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I know it wouldn't look as sexy, but it would probably work just as well with one LCD in front of a CRT. That would knock the price down.
    • Re:CRT? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Ubi_NL ( 313657 ) <> on Thursday April 04, 2002 @06:30AM (#3283248) Journal
      It will also not work.
      The whole idea behind this is that certain pixels on the low layer get shaded by pixels from the upper layer. Now if you have a high enough resolution, and if the pixels fit exactly, then you get 3D (meaning: your left sees something else then your right eye).

      This is because the shading pixel is not really on top of the underlying pixel, but a little bit left or right from it. This is the difficult part!
      Don't forget that you don't see the depth just because it has two layers: you see it because the upper pixel and the lower pixel together produces two images: 1 for the left eye, 1 for the right!

      If you do this with two screens that are not exactly matched you will most likely lose the effect of 3D.

      • You'd still have alignment issues, but the LCD would still be in front.
      • Re:CRT? (Score:2, Informative)

        by Mawbid ( 3993 )
        I noticed that neither the Actual Depth page nor the TechTV writeup talked about this at all. Both presented this device as something that simply gives you two planes to work with: "Imagine editing video, for example, and having your video displayed full-screen under your timeline and other editing palettes.".

        I'm aware of the technique of putting a vertical grating on top of a screen to block every other line from each eye, then drawing the right eye image on the odd lines and the left eye image on the even ones, creating a 3D image. You seem to be talking about something like that, with the front monitor taking over the role of the grating. In that case, I think "This is the difficult part!" is an understatement. Can you explain further? Or are you talking about a different principle?

      • Thanks for the explanation. :)

        It still seems very limited (Half the resolution, angle issues...) and the article doesn't even mention this as a use. They seem to treat it simply as a Head Up Display.
        • One more thing...

          This technique would also work with a regular screen with a grid of dots painted on the screen guard.
      • by hij ( 552932 )
        The alignment would be all that bad. All you need is to do is to divide the screen into two pictures. Then tape a piece of cardboard so that it divides the two images. Now put a couple of lenses at the other end of the cardboard. Instant stereoscope!

        The technology of the roaring 90's (1890's) meets the technology of the twenty-first century. Just think, we all thought that we would get flying cars.

  • Seen it. (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I've seen the monitor before. The effect isn't impressive. It basically looks like what you'd expect - one lcd layer on top of another, will little illusion of depth.
    • by NanoGator ( 522640 ) on Thursday April 04, 2002 @01:25PM (#3285082) Homepage Journal
      "I've seen the monitor before. The effect isn't impressive. It basically looks like what you'd expect - one lcd layer on top of another, will little illusion of depth."

      The two layers isn't to produce a stereoscopic effect, they're an interface feature. The demo I saw was a guy using Windows with this device. The screen was touch sensitive and he could drag windows around with his finger and then push it into the background layer. You could get a lot more things on the screen with this device because the added layer gave you something to focus on.

      They weren't marketing it as a 'watch tv in 3D!' gadget like everybody else, they were marketing it as a practical interface to Windows. (I think I remember the rep saying it'd work on any os, the demo was Windows though.)

      Unfortunately, the article that Slashdot posted was misleading by calling it '3D'. It would be better to describe it as 'dual monitors with the form factor of only one monitor.'

      Just to make a point, don't pass judgement on this device until you actually see it in practice. I was skeptical of it too until I saw the demonstration. Compared to the '3D Tvs' they had around the show, this thing was by far the clearest. The 'stereoscopic' monitors they had around the show floor were headache inducing. The slightest movement and everything would warble a bit. At least this particular monitor stayed clear.

  • This is going to wreck havoc and cause major confusion for the clean-freeks between
    us... Imagine trying to clean those nasty fingerprints in 3D..

    I wonder what the moiré patterns caused by fingerprints would look like on
    this screen..

  • The video gives a little technical information. At the end, the reporter says that consumer versions are planned and "they will cost less than two desktop LCD monitors".
  • I think that eventually we will get 3D displays for games. What I'd really love is a dual projector system with polarised glasses. That should look awesome - a bit like a minature version of those incredible 3D IMAX films.

  • by Innomi ( 566928 )
    What use is there for 3 dimesions, when depth is only one of two values? Is there something I'm missing?
  • "I'd love to see one of these in action even though chances are I would never be able to afford one. Prices start around 6 grand, quite steep."

    Right now the prices may be high, but as with all the goodies, the prices are bound to fall.. and fall. When the company breakevens, the prices should fall, but it is really dissapointing to have such high priuce pegged initially. If the prices were lower, breakeven would be faster... anyways, this tech is cool, but what is being ignored comletely is the effect on eyes. I may be wrong but i do not think that any eye tests have been done! Already lotsa ppl in the IT industry are suffering from poor eyesight.. i wonder what this technology has in store for us?
  • by rkgmd ( 538603 ) on Thursday April 04, 2002 @06:36AM (#3283263)
    Here [] is an article that explains why this device may be nothing more than two simple overlaid workspaces but not true stereoscopic 3-D. In particular, it says in bold red: "For Stereoscopic-3D you'll need special Stereo-3D software in any case, whether it's photography, film, tv, video or computer software. You will never get a real 3D experience out of standard material. There are products which claim to do this, especially pseudo3D-television devices, but those offerings are bogus! - You can't get 3D out of thin air." From what I have previously heard about stereoscopic vision, and confirmed by what the article says, one needs two slightly different points-of-view of a 3-d object (or simulated points-of-view in case of flat images) for the brain to correctly synthesize the notion of depth. That is why one typically uses glasses with accurately sync'ed shutters (so that one frame is delivered to one eye and the next frame to the other---there are any number of schematics [] available on the web to roll your own provided the display hardware/software can support this). Alternate techniques for generating stereo vision include polarization techniques, etc.
    • There are products which claim to do this, especially pseudo3D-television devices, but those offerings are bogus! - You can't get 3D out of thin air[...]

      Did you see their address? Global Headquarters:

      Deep Video Imaging Ltd. (New Zealand)
      Airport Road
      Mystery Creek RD2
      New Zealand

      Now I wouldn't put my savings in a bank on Crook's Road or trust a company on Mystery Creek to come with err... magic products. :)
    • I've seen this sucker in action at the base of the Eiffel Tower in Paris -- and about 4 years ago at that. I promise you that, despite what people may say in that article, it works quite well, although the viewable angle was painfully small back then. (I would assume that that's been fixed now with the general advances in LCD technology.) The image does appear to be true 3D. Perhaps not extremely deep (when I saw it, the "depth" was perhaps 3 "inches"), but it wasn't simply two layers; a hand, for example, had a clear progression of depth from the tip of the fingers through the palm, not just a finger layer and a palm layer. I was quite impressed at the time, and it will be neat to see such prototype technology finally become available for actual use.
      • I've seen this sucker in action at the base of the Eiffel Tower in Paris -- and about 4 years ago at that. I promise you that, despite what people may say in that article, it works quite well, although the viewable angle was painfully small back then. (I would assume that that's been fixed now with the general advances in LCD technology.) The image does appear to be true 3D.

        Uhhh. Are you sure it's the same technology? I ask because another method of doing "naked eye" 3-D involves an LCD-like display which gives you different images depending on your viewing angle, so the left and right eye get different images assuming you aren't too far away from the screen. I don't know about today but in the past, having to calculate 6-9 images per frame (to cover all the viewing angles) was too hard to do in real time so they just showed still images. Or maybe they just didn't have the necessary support in popular applications for that rather odd mode of operation.

        It sounds to me as though that might be what you saw in Paris.

  • Other links (Score:2, Informative)

    The manufacturers web site [].

    An article [] in the Electronic Engineering Times.

  • 3-D in the traditional sense has to do with showing a different picture to each eye. Everything else is just polygons.

    What this monitor does do is lay a transparent layer on top of a regular LCD display. So its kind of having two monitors without moving your neck. Cool, but not 3D.
    • Ehm. I saw 3d displays at CEBIT. I'm not sure if it were the ones discussed here, but they were definately VERY 3d. I think it was only 2 planes but the sense of depth is incredible. I think even with 2 planes you can show a multiplane 3D image pretty realistically.

      These things only worked if you're not standing too close and not too far (a few metres) and DON'T MOVE YOUR HEAD! You'll get very dizzy and before you know it you're down on the floor:)

    • In what way is this not 3D? Only because the third dimension only has such a low resolution that doesn't mean that there isn't a third dimension.
    • What they need to develop are electronically generated, software defined, holograms.*

      Ive seen hologram / photographic plates at a hamfest once laying flat on a table, illuminated with ordinary room lighting, but you actually DO see DOWN into the table - it was so astounding you want to reach under the table and check it out! Somehow it reconstructs a wavefront plane such that as you change your point of view you get a different image from that point of view, i.e., each eye does get a slightly different image.

      * This idea copyright ©2002, Pat. Pending.
  • I'm not impressed (Score:2, Informative)

    by altaic ( 559466 )
    They passed up the excellent opportunity to use a polarized filter on the lcds. With a pair of polarized glasses, you could have true 3D with that setup. That's what they use in the 3D IMAX setups these days (polarized light on a screen that preserves the polarization), and it works amazingly well. You can sit down for hours and watch those with no problem, despite the bs (why their product is better) from the Actual Depth guy. The setup Actual Depth uses is only two layers. As far as 3D gaming goes, there is little to no difference. I don't see the other applications as doing too well either, except perhaps for the medical ones. Even then, though, it's nothing a normal single layered lcd couldn't do with overlays. -Altaic
    • Re:I'm not impressed (Score:3, Informative)

      by BadDoggie ( 145310 )
      Why didn't they use polarising filters?
      Perhaps because LCDs are already polarised [].
      Really. []
      It's true. []


      • by isaac ( 2852 )
        There are a few different 3D LCD systems - the one in this article is just 2 lcd panels stacked on each other for a multiplane effect. Others have referred to a system that uses lenticular lenses and a special pattern of illumination to deliver stereoscopic images without glasses, but this only works if you're in one of the "sweet spots" that aren't very large. The polarization idea, though, I think is the one that will really catch on.

        Yes, I know how LCDs work, so bear with me - instead of using filters that polarize every pixel the same way, one could use filters that polarized every other line at 90 degrees to the previous. Now, manufacturing such filters and fitting them to LCDs is more expensive than current LCDs, but the advantage is that a simple pair of polarizing glasses (with one lens polarizing at 90 degrees to the other) would enable stereoscopic viewing of the LCD from any distance within the field of view of the LCD. I believe there is a company out there already claiming to have developed such displays, but I don't recall the name - they were touting their micropolarizer filter technology, anyhow, which is the hard part of making such a display.


    • The 3D IMAX screen preserves polarization through reflection; the images are generated by two projectors, each with a polarizing filter 90 degrees out of phase. If two stacked LCD displays are polarized 90 degrees out of phase, then the closer display will completely interfere with the farther display. Thus you will see the closer display through one eye and a blank screen through the other.

      On the topic of 3D displays, while I was at GDC I checked out a projected 3D display, just like the IMAX solution. Still expensive. They also had a shutter glasses solution. The game was a skateboard game I forget which. Anyway, this setup was running a very high refresh, since it was on display after all, and I still walked away with an unpleasant twisting feeling in my brain after only five minutes of play.

      It was cool while I was playing, but I think it would wreck you to do it steadily for an hour (or two or four...)

      Maybe the interactivity has something to do with it - it might be more demanding on your visual system to play an interactive game than to watch a movie. Or to be that close. Or something. But I think usable 3D displays for gaming are still a long way away.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    People seem to forget that with 3D glasses, you're not limited by the depth of the apparatus, you can render things at infinity, and even things in front of the screen!

    Furthermore, with 3D glasses you get to see everything even if you're not exactly in front of the screen (think 'living room' with 10 people watching the same screen, some people will have tilted views). If your 3D TV is shaped like a hollow box, then the sides of the box will hide parts of the image for some people.

    The only technology that could compete with 3D-glasses would be a transparent hollow box, or think R2D2 projection hologram. You still lose the range of depth you can get with 3D glasses (so you lose panoramas), but you gain a "stand in your room" effect which could be pretty cool in some cases.

    3d-glasses, like rechargeable batteries, a great simple technology that somehow gets dismissed.
    • Once upon a time, maybe '96-97, weren't they actually supporting 3d-glasses in some games? not shutter-glasses, but real honest-to-god independant display-for-each-eye 3d glasses? I seem to remember a set-up at a computer store, with a $500 head mount display, and descent, or something like that. I was wasted at the time, which might have added to it, but it was REAL. this is going to kill me, time to throw up REAL. I was just too broke at the time to pay much attention. I know I've done some 3d tricks with VRML on some of my sites (which I shall not plug at this time) where I did 2 VRML displays on screen, from slightly different perspectives, then unfocus your eyes, and it works like a charm, aside from making you look like an idiot. It would be cool If there was a standard 3d goggle you could design stuff for... But I still want a holotank.
    • Drivers support 3d glasses already

      3D Stereo Driver (for 3D Glasses) ows2000

      Some GF4 (PNY branded I think) cards come with them in the box.

    • What is the best way for 3D glasses to work for more immersion or realism?

      Enhance the image on the actual monitor then "look-thru" the head glasses for the 3D effect? OR, to have the source of the image on each eye projected from the actual head glasses?

      I presume most glasses for gaming are the "look-thru" variaty.

  • Unless I'm horribly mistaken, this [] claims their cards support Dimension Technologies [] 3d lcd displays. Their monitors use a single lcd but have special optics that makes alternating columns of pixels visable to each eye.
    • Yes... except the ActualDepth LCD monitors do not have Actual Depth, whereas the dti LCD monitors do have Actual Depth and are real 3D without the glasses using NVidia's 3D drivers.

      It's hilarious that these guys think they have something special. The DTI3D LCD's work on all Direct3D and OpenGL games to give you actual 3D, whereas these guys need stuff written especially for the hardware. This will not get past the commercial market if any.
  • Seen it in action (Score:5, Informative)

    by sdflkgfljdqshgjkqsfg ( 129027 ) on Thursday April 04, 2002 @06:44AM (#3283287)
    Last week I saw such a 3d display at an IS conference in Paris. I was in a bit of a rush so I did'nt have time get any details but here are my impressions:
    - You do have a "real" depth feel.
    - you have to stand at a set distance from the screen (not too far, not too close)
    - Don't move your head around too much, it gets blurry.

    So yes, I was definatly stumped, but don't go spending your dollars yet is my advice. It's definatly cool but I don't feel it's all that ready either.

    • I've seen it too and was also impressed. The guy demoing it said their target markets were kiosks and info-heavy apps (e.g. build 3D model in top layer, render it in the botton layer). Not your average gamers rig and with 2 LCDs not likely to be anytime soon.
    • -Don't move your head around too much, it gets blurry

      Are you sure that you weren't looking at an autostereoscopic display? That is - something that is true 3D, and uses lenticular lenses or similar to achieve the 3D. It is also something that is not very technologically advanced yet - resolution is very poor (typically half of a normal LCD, due to the tricks required to get stereo) and the stereo "sweet spot" is very small.

      The product in question, however, is simply two LCD screens, one on top of the other, to give you "actual depth". There is nothing particularly 3D or stereo about it - simply that some objects can be positioned an inch behind other objects. The main use for this would be in the area of public touchscreen booths, etc. It may also be useful in ordinary desktop metaphors where (for example) the active window could be positioned an inch infront of everything else.. And more importantly - it has the advantage that it doesn't require you to hold your head in a certain position / distance.

    • Re:Seen it in action (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I think you saw something else. I have seen what is definitely an actualdepth monitor, and the effect isn't impressive - it just looks like 2 superimposed planes with little 3d depth effect, beyond the fact that you have 2 planes separated a short distance.
  • 3D w/o Goggles []
    3-D Monitor From Deep Video Imaging []

    How hard is this? Perhaps with all the money you're reaping from these ads, you could hire some poor sap to search for dupes?
    • I agree. Once something pops on slashdot it's time to just move on and get on with our lives. We should not have to ever see another article on 3d imaging, DSL on the American west coast, KDE, or Bill Gates. Considering all the attention Uncle Bill gets around here, we especially don't need to hear anything else about him!
  • This was news back in 2000. I guess it's news to ppl who weren't reading tech news back then.

    And the TechTV "scoop" is just so much guff. What kind of lousy review doesn't even show pictures of this thing in action? The cynic in me says that they've just copied-and-pasted from a press release...

  • Is it just me, or aren't most of the manufacturer's claims already doable using transparent windows or alpha blending on the desktop?
    • Doable yes, usable no : in this solution you just have to compute the final image two times. Using software would require the latter plus time consuming transparency calcs ...
      • Not only would the transparency calculations still have to be done, but twice as much info would be sent through the graphics card to drive the overlay display since it requires a card or system with dual monitor support. I propose that this 'hardware' method would actually be slower.
  • Hmmm... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Evan927 ( 15553 )
    Please note: QuickTime and Real formats are no longer supported

    The monitor may not require a special OS, but TechTV's review sure does.

  • 3D Monitors??? Bring on the 3D Women! w00h00! -=J=-
  • by Florian Weimer ( 88405 ) <> on Thursday April 04, 2002 @07:16AM (#3283357) Homepage
    I doubt that you can achieve the same amount of 3-dimensional impression using such a simple approach as, say, a CAVE with motion tracking. For example, how do they display objects with surfaces orthogonal to the two LCD screens?
  • I saw this at a tech show in London (Live) in 1996. It works well if it's the same sort of thing - one layer is "aimed" at one eye, and the other is for the other eye. Dunno how they split the LCD images, but I think prisms were involved.

    Anyhow, the Sharp demo system worked and I wondered what had happened to the idea...

  • This is not 3 dimensions. It's twice two dimensions, nowhere near a possibility to have 3d accelerator video boards taking advantage. No quake. Must feel like two overheads on top of each other. What exactly do you win with this kind of display? You could probably display the windows on the front layer and the desktop background on the back layer (including a nice shadow, osX style). But that's about it.
    • And 3D glasses are just 2 dimensions for each eye. But then again, so is how we actually perceive three dimensions.

      Similarly, this is not just 2 Z-planes as people keep dismissing it, but a way to display a slightly different image to each eye, allowing our brain to construct a 3D image of something, exactly as it does in "real life."

      For this to work, of course, the renderer theoretically needs to know exactly how far away your eyes are, and in what position (including how wide the space between them is!), in order to vary the images on the two displays in precisely the way needed to create the effect. This is borne out by the testimony of folks that you need to be a) a precise distance from the screen, and b) not move around too much.

      So, if the display came with some sort of stockade-like head mount, those of us who aren't Mena Suvari could all experience the very real and true illusion of 3D, albeit uncomfortably.

  • by N8F8 ( 4562 )
    Yet Another 3D Screen.

    Cute, but when can I go down to WalMart and buy one?
  • by Bnonn ( 553709 )
    ...anyone? As far as I can tell from the article, this is an uber-expensive hardware version of existing transparency methods, with two differences: 1, there are effectively two desktops you can see at once, so you can switch between them to draw applications into focus; and 2, the second desktop is located physically behind the first, so there is a better 3D effect due to parallax. It would be an interesting idea to try point 1 using software--it might make transparencies more easily manageable--but the only real benefit I can see over software transparencies is point 2.

    Which is likely what you'd expect, except it's only 3D in that there are two flat planes for objects to be "projected" onto instead of one. Sure, having apps that would support this with depth-based widgets could be pretty cool, but I wouldn't get too excited. I'd be surprised to see this becoming a mainsteam hit.

    Also, if someone could explain how this would benefit gamers (as stated in the article), I'd be keen for a response, coz I'm coming up blank. I can't see Quake being anything but confusing with this...maybe RTSes or RPGs that have sidebars with widgets?

  • This is not a 3D screen. It's two 2D screens and as such doesn't offer any clear advantage over two regular screens IMHO.

    Besides, It will be obsolete once they invent the elusive "Translucent Middle Screen". :)
  • I wonder how it will download MP3's id tags off of the internet w/o netwok connection...

    Dude, that must be something I've gotta be aware of :-)

    Anyways, that's sorta what I did with an old PC... mponent/mp3_hi-fi_component.html []
  • I've used a multi-dimensional monitor for years!
    Admittedly, it's only got 2 dimesions, but is a
    hell of an improvement over that one dimensional
    SOAB I'd been using beforehand.
  • The second-generation plasma panel displays used to have up to four layers. The plasma panel cells are like little neon lamps - they are only stably either on or off, so to get greylevels (becuse they didn't switch very fast), the makers stacked up several layers, with a 50% grey filter between them. The most significant bit plane was at the front, the next one was behind it, and so on. There was a subtle 3-D effect too, but it was hard to see a real use for it.

    I also remember another device where a mono LCD used a colour CRT as a backlight. At the time (about 1985) this offered high black-and-white resolution, and the ability to display CMYK (inverse RGB, and black), which was quite interesting at the time. The CRT had a thick front plate, so the LCD was clearly 'floating' some way in front of the CRT image.

    A holodeck, it ain't. Even quite modest volumes contain an awful lot of voxels. Think how many little cubes you get in a bag of sugar.

  • this could turn goatse into a "hole" new experience
  • by ProfessorPuke ( 318074 ) on Thursday April 04, 2002 @08:48AM (#3283529)
    and the misconception most people will have is that it's supposed to display some kind of 3-D data. The only way it can be considered a "3d output device" is if you only need to output 3D shapes that happen to consist of two parallel rectangles separated by 3cm.

    Traditional 3d hardware includes 3d accelerator cards, immersive-display goggles, stereoscopic LCD goggles, crystal-ball type volumetric displays, and the (theoretical) realtime hologram projector. But the problems those devices attempt to solve are almost completely distinct from what the ActualDepth display is meant for. (Well, except that a truely effective hologram projector could emulate any other display technology...)

    The point of ActualDepth is to allow your computer to present you more visual information in the same space. If you run traditional software that's not aware of the special screen layout, you can just use the multi-monitor feature of the OS's gui system (in X11 they call it Xinerama) to assign some windows to the front screen and some to the back. That way you can look at both of them at once, and for instance can read the online manual for a game at the same time you play it full screen, or operate a 3d-modeller in the classic 4-way parellel projection while a textured preview of the object sits on the back display. Anything that you'd do with dual-monitors, you can do with this, but using less physical real estate, and, more importantly, with less time to focus your vision from one to the other. Both screens are centered in your field of view at the same time, so there's no looking back and forth nessecary.

    It's likely that without modifications, your GUI interface will only allow the mouse to switch between screens by you dragging it across one edge of the screens, where it considers them seamed together. That is irritating and unintuitive, so you'd want to use one screen as more of a read-only device, showing useful data but rarely needing interaction.

    Elsewhere, someone asked if this effect can be emulated in software just by alpha-blending on image on top of another. You could try this, but it wouldn't really work. At the points where the foreground image is solid (thick black text), the background will be completely obscured. But with "actual depth" between the displays, the stereo-graphic effect of dual-eyeballs comes into play. Assuming the foreground image is mostly line-art or text and doesn't consist of large regions of solid color, then for every pixel in the background image, at least one of your eyeballs will have an unobstructed line of sight to it. You remain aware of the contents of both displays with no additional perceptual effort.

    The device I tested had a touch screen attached in front, and the window-manager (well, Microsoft Windows(tm)) was configured so that a single-click on a titlebar would shift a window 1024 pixels left or right, effectively toggling it between the front and back displays.

    To begin to recoup some of the enormous pricetag for ActualDepth hardware, though, you'd need to run software that's aware of the display's special characteristics. (The code doesn't need to link any special drivers or new APIs, but it does need to be aware that graphics drawn at (X-1024,Y) will appear floating over (X,Y)).

    Essentially what the application should do is allocate one display for data, and one for meta-data. That is, if you're word-processing a document, the back display should always give a WYSIWYG preview of the output, and the front display should present all the filenames, font names, editing markup (including those automatically-generated spellchecker warning scribbles), section breaks, margin, column boundaries, etc.

    I'd really like to see what user-interface innovations would pop out if the programming public got to play with these monitors for a while, but at the current price, that's just not going to happen. (ActualDepth should sponsor some free-software authors to modify their code to exploit their displays- until they get some sample applications out there, potential users won't understand the benefits).

  • Sure it can do 3D, but only in two planes. It's true and real 3D but so limited, what's the use? It's not 'infinite' planes as could be done with high resolution, high color, antialiased STEREO images and those 'annoying' glasses.

    Now, I will say that the 'stacking' of related app data is kinda cool, but you really could get that from a single monitor. If you've seen WinXP in action, the mouse pointer creates a shadow over the desktop. Looks 3Dish. True it isn't in two planes, but who cares?

    Sorry, but I'll keep my $6000 bux and buy a sweet rig and some glasses for true stereoscopic vision first. I wear glasses normally so wearing a different pair doesn't bother me at all.
  • Let's see, we already had the fufme device (, now there's the 3D monitor. Combined with a force-feedback glove, what more does any pr0n lover need?
  • The world's first commercially available multi-dimensional monitors
    Strange--I could have sworn I saw a two-dimensional monitor for sale somewhere. I guess I was wrong.
  • wouldn't it be possible to just make a "clip on" version of the top layer to just place over an existing monitor to achieve the same effect? that would certainly make it alot cheaper, although i suppose that the whole pixel line up would be thrown out of whack..

    shrig.. i'd still like to see it in person
  • by Scooter ( 8281 )
    "The world's first commercially available multi-dimensional monitors"

    Last time I looked "2" counted as multiple dimensions - a Uni-dimensional monitor wouldn't be much use now would it?
  • In the white-transparancy LCD. I would just love to have a very-large one of these.

    Can you immagine having a huge seemingly tranparent pane of glass with the ability to show any range of LCD images except white? It's like the ultimate HUD. I could install one in my car. The possibilities are endless.
  • CeBIT (Score:3, Informative)

    by quigonn ( 80360 ) on Thursday April 04, 2002 @10:02AM (#3283742) Homepage
    I saw some of them of CeBIT, and they're pretty cool, although your eyes begin to hurt after a few minutes of watching. So, IMO it's a technology not yet ready for the end-user market.
  • Instead of spending 6k on a a spiffed out display device spend 500-1000 on a very nice profesional graphics card(heck i think some of the cheaper Matrox cards have this) that supports an overlay plane. CAD software has been making use of these for years. In fact some SGI's support makeing everything in the overlay plane 'superbright' so that labels stand out. And with the overlay plane you are not stuck with white as your only 'chroma key' color choice.

  • by tcyun ( 80828 ) on Thursday April 04, 2002 @10:05AM (#3283751) Journal
    I spoke with a friend a while back about some work with multiple plane 3D display units a while back. Using Google, I found a few people that have multiple (arbitrary?) layers of depth using lasers. Yes, this is different than LCD and functionally more difficult, but interesting nonetheless.

    The idea is to send multiple beams into a glass cube. When beams interesct, they flouresce. By controling the way the beams enter the cube, one can create a volumetric display. There is an article here [] about some work done by some Stanford folks, and a somewhat related presentation here [] from some Berkeley folks.

    (also searching, I found the there was an article [] about Actual Depth here on /. a while back.)

  • ...about 2 months ago at a visualization conference in Boston. You can get these in a touch panel as well. Great for heads-up-display interaction. Also, depending on how hard you press you can send the windows between the front and back pannel. Beats minimizing your window when you don't need it for a moment but would still like to see information displayed on it.
  • For 3D vision - or stereo vision doesn't the left eye have to see a different image than the right? Since the eyes only differ by a small position, the LCD can only differ the image by the angle of the viewing eye. So this doesn't seem like it would work if.

    you turned your head sideways

    you moved your head to far to the right or left

    you were to far or too near the display

    Man, ergonomically nasty. But atleast these people are using the annoying tendency of LCD display to get real dim at a moderate to steep angle to their advantage. You know... Like those evil LCD movie screens on airplanes.

  • This isn't 3D. 3D allows for vectors and surfaces along any possible plane. This allows for two levels of 2D. This is usually referred to as '2.5D', meaning 2D but layered so one flat 2D plane can obscure another parallel flat 2D plane.

    further, 2.5D usually allows for an unlimited number of parallel 2D planes, and this only has two.

    Cool, I guess, but hardly a 3D monitor in any practical sense of the term...
  • It seems to me that you wouldn't be able to get true stereoscopic vision from this monitor only a two-layer 2D setup. Is this really any more useful than having 2 monitor's side-by-side? You can read about a true stereoscopic 3D monitor here []. This uses an LCD behind a "vertical-blinds"-type lens to allow each eye to only see alternate columns of pixels. So it displays the left eye's image on "even" columns and the right eye's image on "odd" columns. Sounds cool, works on the same principle as those 3D posters at your local theater, and is only around $1500 compared to $6000. It's made my DTI [].
  • The effect is similar to a heads-up display for a pilot with a screen of transparent GUIs 1" in front of a normal screen. The "stereo" effect was best when a 3-d text (as in the screen saver) rotated on the top layer. There was an illusion of depth at that point.
    The cheapest model was going for $8K.
    FWIW, Dimensional Media had a true stereo-without-glasses monitor ( $95K ) that allowed 20 layers of depth and looked good, though the depth was not great ( looked good showing a Doom demo, tho ).
  • Max Fleischer invented this technology many years ago. This is just multiplane animation in real time. tm
  • got a patent on this idea when it first occured to me 3-4 years ago, bleh.

    Not like it is all that ORIGINAL of an idea, the only main issue being the development of transparent LCD panels. :)

    Still though, I wonder if my 16x+ LCD idea would count, or is it just a derivitive? Hmm.
  • What if you would layer a bunch of these things together? That is, put a bunch of transparent LCD panels on top of one another, so you have a bunch of slices for 3D objects.

    I could see this as something similar to the rapid-prototyping machines that compose an object out of tiny slices to turn 2D data into a 3D object.

    One problem I would see is the visibility of the lower layers -- they would be obsecured by the top layers. This could be addressed by modulating the luminance value of the respective pixel in each layer, tuned to the depth of the layer (front layers would get less luminance while back would get more).

    Would be cool, but expensive as single panels today are $$$.

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