Check Out The Stereographics!
For Sale: CrystalEyes 3D LCD Goggles
In the early 90s, Hollywood introduced the public to cyberspace — a thing where you fly around inside colorful 3D graphics. Hacking something is as easy as manipulating some abstract 3D shapes, but be careful: a virus can kill you for real. A lot of these tropes are still going strong today, and it all goes back to that mad little string of cyber-movies including Johnny Mnemonic, Hackers, and Lawnmower man. Pretty much, Hollywood wanted to make movies about computers, and then discovered that real computers were actually very dull, non-actiony things. So, they took the bits they liked, and made up the rest. These stereoscopic goggles are one of the real things Hollywood liked enough to keep.
Each lens is actually an LCD, with a resolution of exactly one (1) pixel. The LCD is either clear, and you can see through the lens, or black, and you cannot. The goggles alternate between blocking out the left eye and the right eye. It’s time-synced to a computer screen so the computer can show you an entirely different image for each eye. Thus, the brain can be fooled into thinking something is a 3D object, in the same way a rapid series of still pictures becomes a movie.
The result is what people are now calling “augmented reality” — you see the 3D stuff floating in front of your monitor, just as the promotional literature implies. On the subject of the promotional literature — the company, StereoGraphics Inc., mostly sold these goggles to research labs that wanted to see pictures of floating molecules and protein chains. So, obviously, this is represented in the promotional pamphlet — bit it’s still marketing, darn it, so they had to jazz it up somehow. And thus, you have a bit of graphic design that looks exactly like something from one of those movies — except it was a real product, and they were totally serious.
In theory, these goggles are totally operational, and can be used with any setup that can meet their timing and I/O requirements. The sync box gets its timing off of the VGA signal, passthru style — You connect your VGA port to the sync box, then plug your monitor into the sync box.
In practice, it requires a 120hz refresh rate (60hz times two eyes) and it’s rare you see an LCD go over 70hz. Thus, while the sync would probably work, the monitor wouldn’t be able to keep up.
CrystalEyes is still being manufactured and sold by a company called RealD, and it’s possible (but unlikely) one of their newer emitters will work with these goggles. However, You’ll have to ask them about that.
Bottom line: This is mostly a conversation piece, but someone who understands the nitty-gritty of VGA signals could probably get it going.
Bonus Amazing Factoid
The man that invented these goggles and founded StereoGraphics (Lenny Lipton) also wrote the lyrics to the song Puff The Magic Dragon. If it weren’t true, you’d never believe it.