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How Does the 3DS Work Without 3D Glasses?

By - Source: Tom's Guide US | B 55 comments

Nintendo is keeping quiet about how its goggle-less 3D displays work but luckily for us, the rumor mill is churning out information regardless.

Late on Monday night, Nintendo announced that it would unveil a new version of its handheld DS console at E3 in June. Dubbed the 3DS, Nintendo said the device would allow users to enjoy 3D games without the need for glasses. 48 hours later, and we've already got some rumors about the specifics of the device.

Engadget cites Asahi in Japan, which claims the 3DS achieves its glasses-free 3D effect by using a parallax barrier LCD from Sharp. These displays have been around for a few years but they're very dependent on what angle you look at the screen from. Though this shouldn't be a problem with a small LCD, like the ones you'd find on the DS, it's not too practical for the telly in your sitting room.

So how does a parallax LCD work? Most people know that when you're watching a 3D movie and wearing those dorky glasses, a different image is being sent to each eye; your brain mashes these two images together to create a composite 3D image. You may not know that a 3D display incorporates an overlay that is placed in front of the LCD. This is called a parallax barrier and it polarizes the glasses.

Sharp's parallax barrier is a little different for it is actually a 'switching LCD' that allows for both 2D and 3D imaging without the need for special glasses or goggles. When this switching LCD is switched off, the TFT-LCD displays 2D imaging as normal, but when the parallax barrier is switched on, it controls the way light leaves the display, meaning different patterns of light reach the left and right eye.

Other rumors suggest the device will pack a DualShock-esque vibration-feedback system and something called 3D control sticks, whatever they are.

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Top Comments
  • 23 Hide
    tipoo , March 24, 2010 5:02 PM
    Witchcraft. Got it.
  • 19 Hide
    aje21 , March 24, 2010 4:31 PM
    So you get half the horizontal resolution in stereoscopic 3D mode?

    I wonder if this like the system they use in some of the latest cars to allow the driver to see a sat-nav screen while the passenger sees a DVD?
  • 14 Hide
    sliem , March 24, 2010 4:41 PM
    Next for Nintendo: 3DS XL. A bigger 3DS!
Other Comments
    Display all 55 comments.
  • 19 Hide
    aje21 , March 24, 2010 4:31 PM
    So you get half the horizontal resolution in stereoscopic 3D mode?

    I wonder if this like the system they use in some of the latest cars to allow the driver to see a sat-nav screen while the passenger sees a DVD?
  • -7 Hide
    burnley14 , March 24, 2010 4:34 PM
    Why all the infatuation with 3D lately? I would much prefer high quality 2D, anything 3D I've ever seen is a waste of money and gives me a headache.
  • 14 Hide
    sliem , March 24, 2010 4:41 PM
    Next for Nintendo: 3DS XL. A bigger 3DS!
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , March 24, 2010 4:49 PM
    I predict success on par with Nintendo's previous 3D effort, the venerable Virtual Boy.
  • 4 Hide
    hixbot , March 24, 2010 4:54 PM
    Everyone assumed it was a parallax barrier. No news here.

    I'm not convinced the angle problem is moot on a tiny display.

    I'm pretty sure it will be VERY FUSSY to what angle you view the display. Which will mean you'll have to keep your arms holding this little "gameboy" very still, and keep your head and arms in the perfect position.
  • 8 Hide
    cscott_it , March 24, 2010 4:57 PM
    I was thinking "Laser beams straight to the brain".
    I was sort of close...

    I'm skeptical, but hopeful.
  • -4 Hide
    Miharu , March 24, 2010 4:57 PM
    It's a great job for Nintendo!!!!
    3D technology is a great move!

    If they coming fast they'll stop iPhone progress (because iPhone doesn't have this technology)(happy ending).

    I hope they'll also coming with a real 1080p console supporting 3D. ( PS3 is already on the way for the 3D technology. And the Xbox360 ? No idea. Xbox360 hardware probably doesn't support 3D).
  • 2 Hide
    drethon , March 24, 2010 5:01 PM
    hixbotEveryone assumed it was a parallax barrier. No news here.I'm not convinced the angle problem is moot on a tiny display.I'm pretty sure it will be VERY FUSSY to what angle you view the display. Which will mean you'll have to keep your arms holding this little "gameboy" very still, and keep your head and arms in the perfect position.


    I thought I heard somewhere it tracks where the users eyes or head is at to work with different viewing angles/distances. Could be wrong...
  • 23 Hide
    tipoo , March 24, 2010 5:02 PM
    Witchcraft. Got it.
  • 4 Hide
    ezodagrom , March 24, 2010 5:05 PM
    sliemNext for Nintendo: 3DS XL. A bigger 3DS!

    Nah, it's going to be the 3DS Max, haha.
  • 5 Hide
    borisof007 , March 24, 2010 5:08 PM
    3d scribblenauts sequel, I just became happy in my pants
  • -3 Hide
    rambo117 , March 24, 2010 5:13 PM
    but can it render... nevermind
  • -3 Hide
    tntom , March 24, 2010 5:16 PM
    The military has used lasers to write 'Head Up Display' information directly to the retina before. Seems it would be the most effective way of doing 3D to me. It is not like this technology does not exist. Of course the military version required a helmet. Eye tracking hardware allows the disabled to type using eye movement. Their is no reason you couldn't have 8 of these on a console for a 4 player game without dividing screen real-estate. Commercial versions of laser projectors already exist.
  • 0 Hide
    bustapr , March 24, 2010 5:21 PM
    Wow, only 3-4 months after 3D Avatar fever and everything is getting its 3D version. Its spreading a little too fast and nobody really has the equipment to buy the equipment.

    To what I think, holding the DS in perfect still position in front of your face is near impossible. Those games where you have to move the stylus very fast are some that arent easy for 3D. And the fact that you have to hold the DS with 1 hand hold the stylus in the other while resting your palm on the DS makes it even harder. The 3DS will need super cool graphics to make the 3D worth seeing. But I doubt that they will focus on graphics better than gamecube on this handheld. Gamecube graphics are good for handhelds but are far behind whatever Sony has planned, and we have to be sure that Sony is throwing a new 3D capable handhels with HD capability and more features than this DS. The price of the 3DS will also be HIGH, due to the fact that 3D is expensive, their using more expensive graphics, new tech, and the always high release price. I know its gonna suck, but its still gonna be a success, just like the Wii.
  • 1 Hide
    slaphappy , March 24, 2010 5:21 PM
    aje21So you get half the horizontal resolution in stereoscopic 3D mode?I wonder if this like the system they use in some of the latest cars to allow the driver to see a sat-nav screen while the passenger sees a DVD?


    Woa, thats sick. My car makes you put it in park to watch dvd's lol.

    I wonder if they could auto-correct the viewing angle of the screen by using the accelerometers you find in cell phones today. If the pitch of the DS is slightly downward then the screen needs to bend light differently, or whatever it's actually doing to give each eye a different picture.

    Regardless, leave it to nintendo to actually "do it right" with new technology. The virtua boy was a flop (and I had one), but consider the power glove. Nintendo finally went back to motion detection and got it right with the wii. So hopefully round 2 will give nintendo another chance to get 3d right. If anyone can do it they sure can.
  • 1 Hide
    slaphappy , March 24, 2010 5:23 PM
    tntomThe military has used lasers to write 'Head Up Display' information directly to the retina before. Seems it would be the most effective way of doing 3D to me. It is not like this technology does not exist. Of course the military version required a helmet. Eye tracking hardware allows the disabled to type using eye movement. Their is no reason you couldn't have 8 of these on a console for a 4 player game without dividing screen real-estate. Commercial versions of laser projectors already exist.


    lol wat? The military never used lasers to actually put images on your RETINA for god's sake. Every HUD mounted display system has always projected the imagery on a reflective glass screen, whether it's the monocle HUD in the apache helicopter or the full helmet cam in the f-35.
  • 2 Hide
    miloo , March 24, 2010 5:27 PM
    3D~ really ? i want more better graphic rather than 3Dssssss
  • -1 Hide
    Anonymous , March 24, 2010 5:33 PM
    Thanks Nintendo.

    But..About you come up with innovation where it is needed? Like an innovative plan to get better games on your consoles and better developers?

    Now that's a innovative idea worth doing! :) 
  • 0 Hide
    kbarber29 , March 24, 2010 5:50 PM
    The first holodeck. Awesome.
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