The 3-D spectacular, Avatar, has been one of those rare creative instances that are able to inspire people and entire industries to go beyond, to take a step into the future.This has been one instance of science fiction inspiring science.
The 3-D in Avatar has been so convincing and inspirational to audiences, that they have been leaving movie theaters and going out to their TV stores to ask about buying their own large-screen 3-D television sets and their own 3-D videogame consoles at home.
The market has been responding in every way possible – there are already a few 3-D televisions by Samsung for sale – but out-of-the-box thinker Nintendo, the creator of the Wii is coming to market with a product that is unconventional enough to suit its unconventional image – a portable gaming console that does 3-D without the glasses, a new Nintendo DS called the 3DS.
The coming to market has only been tentative and experimental so far. They are testing it out at gaming shows and conventions ahead of actual mass retail sale next year. It will be interesting to see how much the new Nintendo DS will actually cost when it comes to retail shelves everywhere but its glasses-free 3-D is strictly cutting edge.
Even the latest LCD TVs from Samsung and also the ones planned by Panasonic and Sony, as advanced as they are, still need glasses. The advancement they’ve offered merely has to do with high-tech shutter glasses that are only open one eye or the other at a time. Nintendo has been the only one to offer a glasses-free user experience right here, right now.
The Nintendo DS has been around for more than five years now, and they’ve been actually outselling Sony’s portable offering, the PSP. Sony promises 3-D games for its PlayStation 3 by next year, but come on, portable gaming without silly spectacles?
How does Nintendo hope to make this happen? They call it lenticular technology. What this means is, the machine will use an elongated convex lens around the front of the screen, that is supposed to scatter light at different angles.
So your left eye only sees the light that is scattered directly at it, and the right does likewise with the ones directed to the right. The machine has a graphics processor that puts out two images, and renders each image on its own separate column of pixels on the screen.
So the first column of pixels on the screen will be for the left eye, the second one will be for the right eye, and so on. And each column of pixels, is sent by the lenticular lens towards the correct eye, and that’s how the 3-D will work.
If you think Nintendo has overreached itself with a product so ahead of its time it won’t be able to pull it off, they’re actually showcasing it right now at gaming conventions all over. And it actually works. If Apple’s innovation with cell phones was the multi-touch screen, the new Nintendo DS in 3-D promises to be as big a revolution as that product, or even one as big as the Wii.