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Forward-looking: Acer revealed today a new suite of 3D technologies called SpatialLabs, which allows their line of ConceptD laptops to display images in 3D. Supported display panels will make images appear to be hovering in the space between the screen and user -- all without the need of goofy looking 3D glasses.
SpatialLabs combines three elements to make all that magic happen: a stereo camera for eye-tracking, a stereoscopic 3D display, and software rendering tech to display a different image to each of a viewer’s eyes. The eye-tracking solution is placed on top of a laptop's screen, tracking the position and movement of the user's head and eyes -- that means the solution is meant to be used by a single person at a time.
The ConceptD prototype laptops currently showcasing SpatialLabs consist of a 4K resolution 2D panel with a liquid crystal lenticular lens optically bonded on top of it, meaning the laptop can be switched back and forth between 2D and stereoscopic 3D.
The suite is aimed at professionals working with 3D modeling software. According to Acer, SpatialLabs offers support for all major 3D file formats -- the press release mentions support for Blender, Autodesk Fusion 360, Maya and Unreal Engine -- allowing designers to manipulate their models in 2D in one display, while the ConceptD's stereoscopic display updates the 3D model in real-time.
SpatialLabs is not only intended to support Acer's ConceptD series of laptops, but that's where they're starting with an accompanying developer program. Acer is offering to send those admitted to the program a prototype notebook free of charge for three months. Besides the special hardware and software in the suite, SpatialLabs requires all of the computing power normally needed to smoothly operate 3D modeling software like Blender or Maya.
Older stereoscopic 3D technology suffers of some glaring issues like the need for specialized viewing lenses, causing headaches when viewed for long periods of time, or having a very narrow allowance for where the screen can be viewed without losing the quality of the 3D elements. SpatialLabs boasts of "a look around viewing experience," seeming to overcome some of the obvious obstacles of the past.
Some use case scenarios mentioned on the SpatialLabs website include an architectural rendering and an industrial designer's model for a drone, as well as the immediately obvious applications like gaming or 3D animation.