Many of you have at least given thought to replacing your CRT monitors with LCDs. Maybe not now or soon, but the next time you replace your monitor.

But how many of you were planning on a 3D LCD?

They’re coming. Soon. This isn’t one of those, “we’ll see it, maybe, in five years.” Indeed, according to the latest article on the subject, look more like “we’ll see it, maybe, in five months.”

A little Q&A:

Who is making these?

Sharp. You can read about the technology from Sharp and how it works here.

I have enough of a nerd issue as is. Am I going to have to wear funny glasses to use this?

No. Sharp has figured out how to eliminate that.

Excuse me, but I’m not made of money.

You won’t have to be. Per this Economist article (you need a paid subscription to access the article):

“. . . Sharp’s 3D screen will cost only 50% more than a conventional 2D screen with comparable resolution. . . . That means they could be sold for hundreds, instead of thousands, of dollars. Such pricing would allow Sharp to aim at the consumer market, which is vastly larger than the more limited professional one. The company expects to start shipping consumer models of its 3DLCD early in 2003.”

By 2004, Sharp expects the price difference to drop to 25%. Sharp is also considering licensing the technology shortly to other companies.

I really don’t want 3D Word.

You won’t have to have it. The monitor can be switched between 2D and 3D mode.

There has to be a catch.

There’s a few:

1) The 3D effect only takes place in a limited area. Elsewhere, the image looks like a jumble. This is not a monitor that people can crowd around.

2) 3D displays take some getting used to. There’s more eyestrain. Disorientation is common, researchers have found that people can get nauseous sometimes when the 3D effect is a little too good (imagine your character falling off a building, for instance).

3) Software will have to specially adapted to take advantage of the 3D effect. Sharp used a modified Quake 2 for demos.

The software company showing the most interest so far has been Microsoft (thought I was kidding about 3D Word?). They’ve expressed interest in coming up with a 3D Windows.

I think this is Revenge of the Office Assistants, myself. When you banish them in Office 3D, I bet Clippy will lunge for your eyes before leaving. Whether that’s better or worse than Links and Rocky peeing at you before leaving will no doubt be hotly debated. 🙂

While Sharp thinks game-players will be the first to want these screens, it’s hard to judge how quickly game makers will do the work necessary to enable the technology. Sort of like chicken-and-egg. MS could give this a good push.

4) The monitors will probably start off small; the biggest one Sharp demoed was 15 inches.

Will This Take Off?

I don’t know. I suspect it depends on the answers to three questions:

1) Will the 3D viewing range be big enough so that a neck brace will not become a recommended add-on? Can people play as they do now, or will they be more concerned about “staying in the zone” than their enemies?

2) Will the 3D imagery blow people away compared to current imagery, blow them away as in “I will sell my not-too-vital organs to get this?”

3) Can people play the game as well or better in 3D than they can in 2D? Don’t think the answer is automatically “Yes.” If your autonomic nervous system is making you duck half the time, for instance, you’re at a decided disadvantage against those with old systems who aren’t.

More likely, you’re going to have to relearn gaming to some degree. Many of the assumptions your brain is making in 2D may not apply anymore in 3D. Might the learning curve (or really the level of patience required) be too steep for many?

This will be interesting.


The Economist’s Technology Quarterly (requires paid subscription)

Silicon Strategies
The Guardian
Sharp’s press release


Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply