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Insert Geordi La Forge joke here: If you are looking for a 3D experience of a different kind, check out the Icuiti iWear line of 3D glasses, demoed at the GDC this year. The iWear is a portable viewer that plugs into the electronic device of choice and allows the user to view video from that electronic device in simulated 3D. Iculti's Paul Travers walked us through the two lines of iWear available. The iWear for the iPod connects into the video plug at the bottom of the iPod and runs off of the iPod’s batteries. The glasses give the user a simulated 44 inch screen from nine feet away, so no more watching movies on the iPod’s tiny screen. Further, the 3D video feature allows users to view movies that support 3D, such as iMax videos. Unfortunately, games are not currently supported with the iWear for iPod because, according to Travers, game video does not currently run from the video port. Icuiti has contacted Apple about this issue, but doesn’t know if any changes will be forthcoming.
The iWear VR920 are the canonical 3D glasses for playing games, especially massive multiplayer online games such as Second Life and World of Warcraft. The video glasses have a pair of high-resolution screens built in that support up to 1,024 by 768 resolution but actually run at 640 by 480. Travers says a built-in tracking system allows users to move their head in all directions and the video moves with them, but unfortunately the demo units at the GDC didn’t have this feature implemented. A built-in microphone allows users to chat with other gamers while using the glasses.
Apparently, Clay Aiken likes to watch his own videos up close and personal.
When we put on the VR920, one thing we noticed immediately was that it took some doing to fit the attached headphones into our ears, but the armature is flexible and can be moved around to accommodate. The glasses also felt a little awkward, and didn’t fit like a good pair of sunglasses. But after a short time of using the VR920 to play a game of World of Warcraft, we started forgetting about that. Watching the desert environment around us and the way that animals, plants, and characters in the game increased their dimensionality - playing the game without the glasses is now boring. Incidentally, users can chat with other users via the microphone.
The current version of VR920 iWear are non-immersive - they don’t close off your peripheral vision to the outside world. But if you want that complete immersive experience, Icuiti provides snap-on shields, but we couldn’t try them out, since there were no snap-on shields available at the show.
The VR920 will ship in mid-April for Windows, and within approximately a month of that, Mac drivers will be available. Travers wasn't able to tell us at the time whether the VR920 will support Intel-Macs only or the PPC as well. In the future, Icuiti is looking to provide higher resolutions, console solutions, and slimmer eyewear.