Do you love the promise of 3D gaming but hate the headaches?
Well then maybe Vuzix's approach to 3D gaming might appeal to you. Vuzix's series of Wrap glasses feature a 16:9 widescreen display offering "a 75-inch virtual display as seen from 10 feet." So instead of the headache-inducing shutter glasses used by companies like Nvidia, Vuzix utilizes dual LCD monitors with resolutions of up to 1280 X 720.
In our San Francisco offices, GamePro demoed the Vuzix Wrap 1200 series of 3D eyewear. The first thing we noticed is that these are much bulkier than your typical 3D glasses, yet much more adjustable. You can adjust the width between the monitors and the focus, making the Wraps well suited to a variety of facial types. While the press materials claim that they can support a number of glasses as well, I remain skeptical that the fit would be ideal.
Right now Vuzix's list of supported games is modest, but hits some of the bigger games: Far Cry 2, Fallout 3, Modern Warfare II, and Crysis Wars. The monitor and head tracking support for the Wrap 1200VR model ($599) make them well suited for flight and racing sims, but not well suited for multiplayer. The demo let us see how they behaved with Far Cry 2, an admittedly dated game, and they performed fine, but didn't seem to take much advantage of layerings between foreground and background. The movie trailers in 3D were much more impressive, with content that really jumped out and seemed to possess more depth.
Unfortunately, the pricing alone will likely deter most gamers from giving the Vusix series a try. The $500 entry point for the Vusiz Wrap 1200 is prohibitedly expensive for most gamers, especially given the comparatively paltry list of supported games.
But the biggest issue I found is that while the dual-monitors are supposed to reduce headaches compared to other 3D models, the truth is far more subjective. Adjusting the focus for each eye requires some troubleshooting and if you they aren't adjusted correctly, you're going to strain your eyes anyway. The glasses themselves are also noticeably much heavier than other 3D glasses I've used; personally I thought my nose wouldn't be able to support them for more than an hour. Finally, the Far Cry 2 demo I saw was simply not well thought out, with little attention given to how a dated game with little 3D support would look. I think the dual monitor approach is novel and deserves more research, but the initial demo I saw wasn't impressive.
Still, Vuzix is a company of smart people. They created the first commercially produced "pass-through augmented reality headset," the Wrap 920AR. The company has been working on augmented reality, like 3D, since its founding in 1997. For their part, Vuzix knows it has an uphill battle against the likes of Nvidia. And like any technological arms race, it's ultimately not only about innovation, but about marketability. If Vuzix can marry the comparatively cooler dual LCD monitor approach to a clever (and affordable) design, then suddenly gamers have a really intriguing vessel for 3D gaming...and a viable alternative to Nvidia.
This article originally appeared on GamePro.com as Are Your Eyes Ready for Dual LCD Monitor Glasses?
Sign up for Computerworld eNewsletters.