From around 2012 onwards, there was a 3D viewing and VR renaissance in the entertainment industry. That hardware has grown in popularity, even if it’s not yet mainstream. However, 3D tech goes back much further, as [Nicole] shows us with a look at Sega’s ancient 8-bit 3D glasses [via Adafruit].
[Nicole]’s pair of Sega shutter glasses are battered and bruised, but she notes more modern versions are available using the same basic idea. The technology is based on liquid-crystal shutters, one for each eye. By showing the left and right eyes different images, it’s possible to create a 3D-vision effect even with very limited display hardware.
The glasses can be plugged directly into a Japanese Sega Master System, which hails from the mid-1980s. It sends out AC signals to trigger the liquid-crystal shutters via a humble 3.5mm TRS jack. Games like Space Harrier 3D, which were written to use the glasses, effectively run at a half-speed refresh rate. This is because of the 60 Hz NTSC or 50 Hz PAL screen refresh rate is split in half to serve each eye. Unfortunately, though, the glasses don’t work on modern LCD screens, as their inherent display lag throws off the timing of the pulses the console sends to the glasses.
It’s a neat look at an ancient bit of display tech that had a small resurgence with 3DTVs in the 2010s. By and large, it seems like humans just aren’t that into 3D, at least beneath a full-VR experience. Meanwhile, if you’re wondering what 8-bit 3D looked like, we’ve got a 3D video (!) after the break.
Whether it was rays from the Sun that made a 150 million kilometer trip just to ruin your day or somebody’s unreasonably bright aftermarket headlights, at some point or another we’ve all experienced the discomfort of bright spots in our eyes. But short of wearing welder’s goggles all the time, what can we do? Luckily for us, [Nick Bild] has come up with a solution. Sort of.
By adding LCDs to a pair of standard sunglasses, [Nick] has created something he’s calling “Light Brakes”. The idea is that the LCDs, having their backings removed, can essentially be used as programmable shutters to block out a specific part of the image that’s passing through them. With the addition of a Raspberry Pi and a camera, the Light Brakes can identify an unusually bright source of light and block it from the wearer’s vision by drawing a sufficiently large blob on the LCDs.
At least, that’s the idea. As you can see in the video after the break, the LCDs ability to block out a moving source of light is somewhat debatable. It’s also unclear what, if any, effect the “blocking” would have on UV, so you definitely shouldn’t try looking at the sun with a pair of these.
That said, a refined version of the concept could have some very interesting applications. For instance, imagine a pair of glasses that could actively block out advertisements or other unpleasant images from your field of vision. If this all sounds a bit like something out of an episode of Black Mirror, that’s because it is.
It’s always a little sad to see a big consumer technology fail. But of course, the upside for us hacker types is that the resulting fire sale is often an excellent source for hardware that might otherwise be difficult to come by. The most recent arrival to the Island of Unwanted Consumer Tech is 3D TV. There was a brief period of time when the TV manufacturers had nearly convinced people that sitting in their living room wearing big dorky electronic glasses was a workable solution, but in the end we know how it really turned out.
Those same dorky glasses are now available for a fraction of their original price, and are ripe for hacking. [Kevin Koster] has been playing around with them, and he’s recently came up with a circuit that offers the wearer a unique view of the world. Any reflective surface will look as though it is radiating rainbows, which he admits doesn’t show up as well in still images, but looks cool enough that he thought it was worth putting the board into production in case anyone else wants in on the refraction action.
To explain how it works, we need to take a couple of steps back and look at the mechanics of the LCD panels used in these type of glasses. At the risk of oversimplification, one could say that LCDs are sort of like capacitors: when charged the crystals align themselves in such a way that the polarization of the light passing through is changed. Combined with an external polarization filter, this has the end result of turning the panel opaque. To put the crystals back in their original arrangement, and let the light pass through again, the LCD panel is shorted out in the same way you might discharge a capacitor.
What [Kevin] found was that if he slowly discharged the LCD panel rather than shorting it out completely, it would gradually fade out instead of immediately becoming transparent. His theory is that this partial polarization is what causes the rainbow effect, as the light that’s passing through to the wearers eyes is in a “twisted” state.
About five percent of the population is colorblind to one degree or another, and for them seeing the entire spectrum from Roy to Biv is simply impossible. Their eyes simply don’t have the cones to detect certain colors. The brain is the weirdest machine on the planet, though, and with the right tricks of light, even the colorblind can see more colors than they’re accustomed to. That’s the idea behind [PointyOintment]’s entry for the 2016 Hackaday Prize: color blindness correcting goggles.
Any device that claims to correct color blindness comes with a few caveats and a slightly loose interpretation of what ‘color blindness correcting’ actually is. For the same reason you can’t see deep infrared, someone with color blindness cannot distinguish between two colors; the eye simply doesn’t have the sensors to see a specific color of light. This doesn’t mean the ability to distinguish color in color blind individuals can’t be improved, though. The EnChroma glasses use an optical notch filter to block all colors between blue and green, and between green and red. This works, because the human brain is weird enough and can adapt to nearly anything.
[PointyOintmen] isn’t going with an optical notch filter. He’s using spinning color discs from a DLP projector and 3D ‘shutter’ glasses to present the world in different shades of color many times a second. It’s weird, untested, and will take a few hours to get used to, but it is a very interesting idea. Will it allow color blind people to see more colors? That’s a semantic issue, but if you define ‘seeing color’ as being able to differentiate between two different colors, yes, it will.
[Dino’s] hack this week seeks to create sunglasses that dim based on the intensity of ambient light. The thought is that this should give you the best light level even with changing brightness like when the sun goes behind a cloud or walking from inside to outside. He started with a pair of 3D shutter glasses. These have lenses that are each a liquid crystal pane. The glasses monitor an IR signal coming from a 3D TV, then alternately black out the lenses so that each eye is seeing a different frame of video to create the stereoscopic effect. In the video after the break he tears down the hardware and builds it back up with his own ambient light sensor circuit.
It only takes 6V to immediately darken one of the LCD panes. The interesting thing is that it takes a few seconds for them to become clear again. It turns out you need to bleed off the voltage in the pane using a resistor in order to have a fast response in both directions. Above you can see the light dependent resistor in the bridge of the frame that is used to trigger the panes. [Dino] shows at the end of his video that they work. But the main protective feature of sunglasses is that they filter out UV rays and he’s not sure if these have any ability to do that or not.
Shutter glasses block light from one eye at a time, so that different renderings can be shown to create the stereoscopic effect. Since stimulating the muscles in the eye doesn’t actually work, you need to find a way to drive the glasses in perfect time with the video signal. His circuit watches for the V-Sync signal, then uses it to toggle the shutter glasses. Since the hardware has no way of knowing whether the left or right frame is being generated, he included the toggle switch as a user-controlled adjustment. If the 3D isn’t coming together, you’re probably viewing the frames with the wrong eye and need to flip the switch.
There’s really no way to show the effect without trying out the hardware in person. But [John] reports that it works like a charm when used with the OpenGL stereo wrapper.
[Jonathan Post] has a way to watch 3D video without wearing shutter glasses but it might be kind of a hard product to break into the market. As you can see above, a pair of electrodes are stuck on a viewer’s eyelids, using electricity to alternately close each eye. The video after the break shows a demonstration of this technology. Obviously a camera can’t capture the image that the viewer sees, but this man describes a perfect 3D image. This reminds us of those ab exercisers that use electrodes to stimulate the muscles. Do you think a 3 hour epic would leave your eyelids tired and sore, eventually resulting and a steroid-esque muscle-ridden face?
Edit from [Caleb]: Judging from the comments, some people believe this to be an absolute impossibility. While we concur that this example is pretty silly (what’s powering those electrodes?), we invite you to watch [Daito Manabe]’s facial electrodes fun.