3D vision hasn’t been a thing on TVs and monitors for years, but Acer thinks there’s still some mileage in 3D content — and they’re incorporating it into their latest laptop prototype.
Announced overnight by Acer, it’s a set of software called SpatialLabs that works alongside Acer’s ConceptD laptops. The idea is that by blending eye-tracking with a stereoscopic-capable display — not unlike the 3DS — Acer’s laptop will be able to show off, say, Blender or Autodesk designs in 3D without requiring any extra hardware.
A camera array in the top bezel of the laptop — seen in the image above — tracks a user’s eyes and motion, while ConceptD’s screen has a film over the top that applies the 3D effect:
The display of the ConceptD SpatialLabs prototype notebook to be provided to participants of the developer program consists of a UHD 2D panel with a liquid crystal lenticular lens optically bonded on top of it, together forming an innovative module that can be switched back and forth between 2D and stereoscopic 3D views.
The pitch is towards designers and creators working with 3D tools. Acer hopes that by having a laptop with a display that can better render a model’s 3D proportions, it’ll reduce artists’ workload by eliminating the need for designs from multiple perspectives.
On the software side, the prototype laptop will come with its own software tools for rendering 2D content into 3D. It includes separate players for 3D video, as well as middleware for Maya and a specific model viewer for viewing models in stereoscopic 3D.
SpatialLabs Model Viewer: A tool that enables a user to import files in all major 3D file formats and present them in stereoscopic 3D. While in the model viewer, information generated about head-position is incorporated into the displayed 3D model. For example, moving slightly to the left or right will rotate the 3D model in the opposite direction, as if a user had taken a step to either side of the object. All of this happens in real-time. SpatialLabs Model Viewer add-ons are available for major 3D software suites, such as Blender and Autodesk Fusion 360, that allow files created in those applications to be transferred into the SpatialLabs Model Viewer with a single click.
SpatialLabs Go: A proprietary solution for rendering side-by-side full-screen content into stereoscopic 3D. For example, after leveraging Blender to set a window into side-by-side full screen view, designers can use SpatialLabs Go to transfer it into stereoscopic 3D.
PiStage for Maya: The middleware PiStage functions as a tool that allows the time-consuming back-and-forth rendering pipeline to be skipped, giving users the flexibility to create or edit content on an extended 2D monitor and view any changes made in stereoscopic 3D in real-time, with SpatialLabs.
SpatialLabs Player: A native player for presenting side-by-side video in stereoscopic 3D.
While the laptop is a prototype, Acer are making it available on an application basis to interested developers using Unreal Engine. Those admitted will get access to the concept laptop for free for three months, freight included, although there’s a catch:
Accepted applicants can use the provided device to create projects in Unreal Engine, and in exchange, the applicant should allow Acer to demo and exhibit these project(s) for one year. User feedback and an interview will also be gathered during the creation process for purposes including product development.
The official release doesn’t mention anything about official pricing, but that’s not surprising for prototype products. It’ll be interesting to see what kind of takeup this gets — the last mention I saw of 3D content was when a modder decided to retrofit it into Tomb Raider. Not the new Tomb Raider games, but the originals that fans made playable through a browser.
Interested developers (indie or otherwise) can apply to give the prototype SpatialLabs laptop a whirl through Acer’s form here. The form doesn’t list the latest version of Unreal Engine that was announced this week, but I can’t imagine Acer would have a problem with anyone who wanted to dabble with the early release build of that.