3-D Vision's technology works by extracting 3D data in the video as opposed to having humans make judgment calls, as is the case with converted 3D movies. It is impressive in both the quality of the 3D effect and the range of devices with which it can work. These include virtually any video source although there won't be much to work with in, say, 2D games from the Super Nintendo era or even today's talking-head news programs. Rendered animation shows, however, like Thomas and Friends, work well. As for output devices, even analog tube-based televisions can display convincing 3D content from 2D films, although the system generates a fair amount of flicker as it struggles to overcome the low refresh rate and interlacing of the once-ubiquitous technology.
It can also work with PCs, tablets and smartphones, although the processing box is not an option when those devices aren't attached to an external display. These viewing platforms require the use of passive glasses as opposed to the active shutter glasses used with televisions. However, even here 3-D Vision's technology has a few advantages. The company claims it is the first approach to generate color 3D with anaglyph-style paper 3D glasses. Also, video remains viewable without the "double-vision" effect when viewed without the glasses, although there is some softening.
If 3-D Vision's demos have a fatal flaw, it's ghosting. It's everywhere -- on PC monitors, CRTs and plasma televisions -- and can be severely distracting. The company offers a range of reasons for this depending on the scenario -- older versions of its processing technology, suboptimal white balancing and ultimately a limitation of today's display technologies. One way to address it might be to dial down the intensity of the 3D effect, a feature offered by the PlayStation 3, Nintendo 3DS and TVs that can perform in-set conversion. If 3-D Vision can improve on that front, or if consumers are willing to accept it, its technology could welcome a wealth of shutout content and devices to a 3D experience.
Ross Rubin (@rossrubin) is principal analyst at Reticle Research, an advisory firm focused on consumer technology. Views expressed in Switched On are his own.