In an interview for the BBC Microsoft’s corporate vice-president for Skype, Mark Gillett mentions something very interesting, namely that the company has been working on a technology for providing stereoscopic 3D video calls for a while now, however such feature may take quite some time before we see it released to the public (if at all).
“We have it in the lab, we know how to make it work and we’re looking at the ecosystem of devices and their capability to support it in order to make a decision when we might think about bringing something like that to market.”
The actual problem in realizing 3D video calls over Skype is not the part where you need to display the stereoscopic 3D data on the screen, but in capturing it in a 3D format. There are already quite a lot of 3D-capable computer displays, a lot of 3D HDTvs, even a few smartphones and tablets, so many people already could be able to see a 3D video chat if there is a means to capture it in 3D on the other side. Unfortunately there are just a few 3D-capable webcams out there (Minoru 3D for example), and only some devices with built-in stereoscopic 3D cameras (Lenovo L2363dwA 3D Vision monitor for example) available that could capture 3D video to send over Skype. There are however no 3D HDTVs equipped with a stereo 3D camera and generally we are just now getting webcameras integrated or available as an option for start TV sets and these are all standard 2D cameras. As for smartphones with 3D capabilities, there are just a few such as the LG Optimus 3D smartphone – equipped with an autostereoscopic 3D display and dual cameras, however the stereo 3D camera is on the back of the phone, so not very convenient for use for a video call.
Apparently Microsoft is well aware of the current hardware limitations, especially regarding the 3D video capture, and they are not in a hurry to bring a new feature that will provide an option to have 3D video calls while the 3D video capture hardware is not yet available on the market. Unlike some other companies Microsoft is rarely seen as a technology leader that will push new technologies such as 3D video calls ahead of time and thus create the demand and the market not only for the service, but for compatible products as well. Instead they are more conservative in their approach and will most likely wait for the technology to be ready and widely available before making Skype able to be used for 3D video calls. What is not taken into account here is that meanwhile some competitor may actually take the lead or a new company may come out and present a whole ecosystem for 3D video calls especially on the mobile devices side where things are happening very fast nowadays.
We should also consider that one of the main problems preventing the stereoscopic 3D technology to really boom is still the general lack of good content. Without enough good 3D content it is hard to convince anyone to buy a 3D-capable computer, 3D HDTV, 3D smartphone or a 3D tablet, and making good 3D content for such devices requires quite a lot of money to be invested. Furthermore the current not so good economic situation worldwide and the fact that the recent boom in stereoscopic 3D technology coincided with the financial crisis of 2007–2008 did not do any good. Yet again there are visionaries like James Cameron who believe in 3D’s future and are able not only to pioneer 3D technology, but also make big profits out of the good work they are doing. So it is possible to be done, though you may have to risk more than you are willing to at this moment and in the end you may still either succeed or fail.
In the end if you are excited about the possibility to have 3D video calls over Skype soon, then you should not get your hopes too high, this is something that may or may not happen, but if it does it will probably take a few more years. What sounds more reasonable is to see Skype celebrating its 15th birthday with the addition of 3D video calls and they are just at their 10th year at the moment, then again in five years Skype may not exist or they may not present 3D video calls at all.
– To read the full interview with Mark Gillett about 3D Video calls and not only over at BBC…
Tags:3D video calls·Mark Gillett·Microsoft·Skype·Skype 3D·Skype 3D video calls·stereo 3d
The stereoscopic 3D photo sharing service Phereo has just announced beta support for the Oculus Rift, adding one more supported 3D viewing method to their list that also includes 3D Vision support all right from the Internet browser. Phereo offers a free service for uploading and viewing stereoscopic 3D photos with some limitations most notable of which is the 300 MB upload limit per month, but that should still be Ok for most normal users. There is a Pro account that allows you to remove that limitation and also adding some extras that might be of interest to professional 3D photographers for example. For example you can take a look at the Phereo Pro account of Cesar Sommer whose professional stereoscopic 3D work was published here on the blog on multiple occasions.
But back on the support for the Oculus Rift for viewing the stereoscopic 3D photos on Phereo. As already mentioned it is in beta stage at the moment and although it may work quite well it is not yet perfect. In order to activate the Oculus Rift viewing mode you need to open an image and click on the Oculus Rift link at the top right corner of the image, switching to full screen mode you will see the left and right views of the selected 3D image next to each other. There is currently no image distortion applied to the two views of the 3D photo for the perfect viewing experience with the Rift, furthermore as with wider aspect 3D videos watched on the Rift you may also see distracting back bars on the top and bottom with viewing 3D photos with wider aspect, so for example 4:3 works better than 16:9 for viewing on the Rift. When you are in full screen mode for viewing the image in the Rift you can use the arrows to view the photos one after another without having to enter and exit the full-screen mode for viewing on the Rift in order to switch to another photo. Also since it is in beta apparently the Oculus Rift viewing mode is not yet available everywhere, so for example on the Cesar Sommer’s portfolio page you don’t get the Oculus Rift viewing method available yet. Anyway if you have an Oculus Rift Development Kit in your hands you may want to check out Phereo.
– You can check out Phereo and the just announced Oculus Rift beta support here…
Tags:3D photo·3D photo sharing·cesar sommer·Oculus Rift·Phereo·Rift support
Back in 2011 when Acer released their first Acer HN274H B 3D monitor with 3D Vision 2 and 3D Lightboost technology support and I’ve got a unit for testing I have noticed that the monitor had some problems with the resolution in stereoscopic 3D mode. When it was showing something in stereo 3D mode the image was like with only half of the vertical lines per eye and not all of them showing, very similar to what you are seeing in a passive 3D monitor though there in 3D mode you get half the horizontal lines per eye. After all one of the advantages of active 3D technology is that it is supposed to be offering full 1080p resolution per eye thanks to the shutters in the 3D glasses being used. Notice on the image above how on the 3D Vision setup wizard with the screen showing the hexagon and rectangle stereo 3D test screen how the 2D text above is just fine, however the geometric figures with stereo 3D effect applied to them are like with half horizontal resolution – you see a line of green pixels for the hexagon then a line of what seems to be white pixels then again a line of green and the same goes with the blue for the triangle. Normally these figures need to be a solid color and monitors with this vertical scanline-like or checkerboard-like issue are showing them as if they are with lower resolution then they should actually be. Note that the image above is not a very closeup shot of the screen and yet the effect caused by the issue is clearly visible, so it is easily noticeable at normal viewing distance when using the display.
Back then I’ve tried pretty much anything to see where the problem with the Acer HN274H B monitor not showing the full resolution per eye was, like using different video drivers, trying different GPU configurations, playing with different cables and so on, but nothing helped. So I ended up with the conclusion that there is something wrong with the monitor itself. Nvidia was also aware about the issue when I’ve checked with them and they were looking into what was causing the problem. I should note that when testing the Asus VG278H monitor that was the other 3D Lightboost-capable monitor back at that time there were no such problems as what the Acer monitor has shown in stereo 3D mode, so apparently not all monitors were affected by this. Since that time I’ve tested a few more newer 3D-capable monitor with 3D Lightboost technology and did not see the same problem present or that much apparent at least in any of them, however I just seen a forum post with people complaining of having very similar problem with most of the newer active 3D displays on the market though not all units seem to be affected. This includes monitors such as the Asus VG248QE, Asus VG278HE, Asus VG278HR, BenQ XL2420T and BenQ XL270T, so it seems that the problem is still there and the question is what is casing it? This issue has actually been identified as LCD inversion (alternating positive and negative voltages for pixels used within an LCD panel in order to prevent polarization and thus damage) and thanks to Mark Rejohn we already have a good online test to check your 3D monitor for LCD inversion artifacts, so check out the Moving Inversion Patterns Test.
With that said, if you have a 3D-capable monitor that is suffering from the same problem as described above (seeming like half horizontal resolution) when in stereo 3D mode and by the way this issue is also visible with moving objects when you are using the display in 120Hz 3D mode, though everything seems normal in 60Hz, you are welcome to report it in the comments below or the forum topic linked below. Please post the model of your 3D display as well as a production date (should be printed on the information sticker at the back of the display). You can easily check to see if your 3D monitor is affected by the same issue and how strong the problem is by going through the 3D Vision setup wizard and taking a closer look at the Hardware Test image with the geometric figures that is on the photo above, so you actually don’t need anything special to test, though the mentioned test above can also help if you are using a compatible browser.
– To check out the topic describing the above resolution problem at the GeForce forums…
Tags:3d vision·Acer HN274H B·ASUS VG248QE·ASUS VG278HE·Asus VG278HR·BenQ XL2420T·BenQ XL270T·checkerboard-like issue·resolution issue·scanline-like issue