Monday, February 14, 2011

Stereoscopic technology and how LG is abusing your ignorance

Let's get your curiosity up, blood boiling, or at least set the stage. The LG Optimus Tablet does NOT have a "3D" camera, nor does it have a "3D" screen anymore than I had on my 486 some 17 years ago (can't remember how far back that was so don't flame).

What it DOES have is two cameras spaced appropriately to record left eye and right eye images that can be combined to created various stereoscopic content. From all the public information and reviews available so far, it appears that they are including software that will record from both cameras and process them to be viewed in an anaglyph (see Wikipedia for more details) format. That format required color filtered glasses that have the nasty side-effect (at best) of an odd "shimmery" feel to the photo and distort the colors. These images can be viewed on ANY color monitor with enough color depth. Actually, they can be viewed on a piece of paper using highlighters of the appropriate color and corresponding glasses.

Unless LG has gone the extra mile and stored the video in a more common industry format (like top/bottom or side-by-side), then plays THAT format back in anaglyph on the tablet (which is possible given the power of the Tegra 2 platform, but unlikely since most companies take the lazy way out), this means that "3D" video recorded from your Optimus tablet won't playback on your 3D TV using your active shutter glasses. You'd still have to use anaglyph glasses that distort the colors.

In fact, let me show you how unremarkable the tech is that they're claiming. Go find a pair of those cheap cardboard "3D" glasses you have lying around from a cereal box, 3D DVD, commic book, etc..  Now go hit THIS link and enjoy your "3D" computer monitor. If you weren't aware, YouTube has features targeted specifically at anaglyph content. HERE is a great example. You could go do this on the iPad right now too (or use whatever method is required to view YouTube videos on the iPad and search "anaglyph 3d video").

Also, want to take "3D" photos on your current Android handset? HERE is a list of apps to help you do just that and other related tasks. Amazing!

This tech (both Anaglyph and LCD shutter glasses) is so old, that it's been available with ANY nVidia video card running on Windows for the last 10+ years. In fact, the "new" 3D tech on your TV isn't new either. I was using the same active shutter technology at least 13 years ago. The only thing that's really changed is the glasses are wireless (for the sync signal) and the tech now works on flat-panel technology because they've got the refresh rate high enough. CRT tech has been capable for at least 15 years (any CRT capable of 120Hz vertical refresh).

As far as the "3D" camera is concerned; you might call me pedantic, but a 3D camera is NOT 2 cameras pulled together in software, but something more integrated. The difference is a gray area, but cost is a sure way to separate the two. Go find a camcorder that can do 720p@60 fps in 3D that will play back directly to an industry standard 3D monitor like your typical consumer 3D TV and you'll see what I mean. As I said earlier, LG MIGHT have gone the extra mile to make this possible, but I doubt we'll be so lucky or they'd be showing off the tab connected to a 3D TV and someone watching that with shutter glasses instead of the anaglyph playback we're seeing now.

So apparently LG thinks we're all ignorant and wants to talk up their hardware as if it's something so special.

2 comments :

Daniel said...

The author of this post is "abusing" his readers by proclaiming they're "ignorant", and through his tirade of opinions mislabeled as "Contributions". No wonder the first line reads "don't flame"...no doubt he's had his share of those.

LG is helping to make creating 3D content more accessible - why rain(abba) on something others might find beneficial?

Michael Richardson said...

First, thank you for taking the time to read the title of my blog. That's something isn't it? Perhaps my wording could have been better, but if you read the article itself, you'd see that I closed this rant (yes, my blog also includes RANTS, not just "contributions") with, "So apparently LG thinks we're all ignorant." I'd say that goes a long way toward clarifying that "I" am not saying we're all ignorant.

Regardless of all that, do you honestly think that even 2% of the population know the tech behind stereoscopy? I sure hope I'm not insulting people with this assumption, but based on my experienced though the last 31 years, most do not, nor do they care to. They just want it to work and if LG says "takes 3D video" and has a "3D screen", there are expectations that will exist based on other popular technology such as the Nintendo 3DS, 3D TV, or hell, even the LG Optimus phone which has an autostereoscopic screen, what most consider a true "3D" screen.

I'm not in the least knocking LG for pushing the 3D evolution, but the fact is that many people are likely to end up disappointed with the so called "3D" features that LG is pushing with this device and THAT will NOT help the 3D industry, it WILL hurt it.

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