zSpace, incredible 3D viewing

If you're looking at 3D viewing systems zSpace is the one you must check out

I really don't think much of 3D movies and 3D television. The glasses you have to wear reduce the brightness and the vast majority of the 3D effects are weak. 

Now, I must admit that 3D is harder for me to see than for most people; I have exotropia, otherwise called a "wandering eye" (caused by an over-enthusiastic operation for esotropia when I was a child) which means that most of the time I see double. Having had the condition since I was four-years-old my brain has learned to ignore one image but when it comes to most 3D media it becomes really hard work to make the images converge so that I can see depth effects. Given, as I contended above, that the effects are usually not that great anyway, 3D has always seemed pretty much a waste of time to me.

So it was that when zSpace offered a demo of their 3D viewing platform I was ready to be underwhelmed. I was very wrong.

The zSpace system consists of a custom display, polarized glasses, and a "pen"

Looking at 3D rendered content on the zSpace display is amazing! As you move your head you see scenes with proper parallax so the illusion of dimensionality is outstanding and using the system's pen, a sort of 3D mouse, you can interact with objects by rotating, moving, and hiding them. 

The demos were fantastic. JPL used zSpace to model their All-Terrain Hex-Limbed Extra-Terrestrial Explorer (ATHLETE) in which you can manipulate the device's limbs and view it from any angle. The video below is the same demo I played wi-, er, evaluated. 

Other demos included engineering designs, renderings of complex molecular structures, and, one of my favorites, dissecting an animated heart which you can see in the video below. 

The zSpace system consists of a 23.6 inch LCD display with a resolution of 1920 by 1080 pixels (you can find the detailed system spec here) with four cameras built into the frame. To use the system you don special spectacles with polarized lens (clip-ons are available for people with prescription eyewear) which have markers on them allowing the system to track your head movements using the cameras. 

The zSpace display can be driven by any computer with an Intel or AMD Quad Core 2.2 GHz (or faster) processor and at least of 4 GB of RAM running Windows 7 or 8 64-bit or 32-bit or Windows XP 64-bit or 32-bit with an INVIDIA Quadro GPU or AMD ATI GPU with DVI or DisplayPort ports.

zSpace also comes with a plug-in for the 3D game engine Unity which makes building 3D content straightforward. I also played with the Unity-based Angry Bots game on zSpace and the ability to move my head and look "around" scene elements was just fantastic!

The "immersive" quality of the zSpace display is really impressive but if you peruse the zSpace site ignore all of the images with renderings apparently floating above the display, someone in marketing apparently got carried away. I'd also take issue with the company's use of the word "holographic"  as in  "zSpace, a Virtual Holographic 3D Display" as holography is a quite different technology.

Those grumbles aside, this is the first 3D viewing system I've seen that not only works incredibly well but also has a reasonable price tag: $3,995. zSpace also has other packages and purchase options

If you're looking into 3D rendering solutions zSpace is not just one you should check out but the one you must check out.

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