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3D technology makes strides in video games, still more room for improvement

Christopher Zamplas had always believed that the “3D craze” was just a fad.

But with research being done for developing glassless 3D technology, the Novi junior has high hopes for the future.

“People like new — people like immersive,” he said.”The more they feel they’re right there experiencing it, the better.”

Nintendo unveiled its new 3D handheld gaming system, the Nintendo 3DS, last summer during the 2010 E3 Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles.

Nintendo’s press release stated the device boasts a 3.53-inch widescreen LCD display with an 800x240 resolution, with 400 pixels allocated to each eye to enable 3D viewing.

According to, a 3D effect is achieved when different images are sent to each eye through a directional filter on the screen. The images are then meshed together into one image by the brain and appear to jump out of the screen.

For modern 3D shutter glasses to work, a display must be coated with an overlay known as a parallax barrier, which polarizes the glasses. This makes the lenses darken and lighten in sync with a display’s refresh rate, creating a 3D effect by displaying an image to only one eye at a time.

According to the website, Nintendo’s new handheld achieves the effect with a "3D Depth Slider," which allows the device’s parallax LCD to be toggled on and off.

When turned on, the parallax LCD controls the way light leaves the display, allowing different light patterns to reach each eye.

This allows gamers to decide whether they want to activate the 3D image or just play in 2D. According to hands-on accounts from technology blog Gizmodo, the 3D effect is dependent on gamers holding the device in a specific position. Otherwise, the effect does not work.

While Zamplas is skeptical of the 3DS, he said he is excited to see where glassless technology can lead.

“I’m sure in a couple hundred years you’ll see computers producing smells and feelings with electrical signals,” he said. “It’s all about virtual reality. Experiencing it in a perceivable dimension is the next step for visuals.”

Zamplas said he had an opportunity to experience 3D gaming on a 3D compatible gaming computer and, while the experience was intriguing, he had a headache after 10 minutes of use.

“The technology is not there yet,” he said. “If you wear [3D glasses] for too long, you get a headache. They’re uncomfortable, they’re heavy. The marketing companies don’t show you that before people get into it.”

Nintendo is not the only company working with 3D. Sony released a firmware update for the PlayStation 3 in December that allows for Blu-ray 3D disc playback. Games like “Super Stardust HD,” “Pain” and “Wipeout” are available in 3D form from the PlayStation Store, while some AAA titles, including “Killzone 3,” will offer 3D functionality.

Unfortunately, Zamplas said, 3D gaming requires more than just a 3D-ready gaming console. People also need expensive 3D compatible TVs or monitors and 3D shutter glasses, which can cost upwards of $100 alone.

Jeff Smith, a broadcast and cinematic arts assistant professor, said most consumers are not ready to replace their recently purchased high definition televisions with more expensive 3D-capable displays.

Additionally, a big challenge for companies producing 3D media is to find a way to include the effects without producing overwrought visual displays with little substance.

“We went through a cycle of 3D back in the `50s and we’re going through another one now,” he said. “I think for gaming, it seems like that would be a pretty simple add to the tech that’s already there.”