/// Cheap Mobile Games? Bah! Meet zSpace’s $4,000 3-D Monitor.
When done well, video games have the power to take players out of their own physical world and make them believe they’re somewhere else. The business of consumer gaming, though, has shifted away from pricey and immersive consoles in recent years, toward cheap and casual mobile and social platforms. So, it’s at once refreshing and puzzling to see something so trend-buckingly different as the zSpace, a 3-D monitor developed by a “virtual-holographic computing” company of the same name in Sunnyvale, Calif. ZSpace execs said the monitor is mainly intended for non-gaming uses, but at both the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco last month and at zCon — a company-run conference in Mountain View, Calif., this week — the potential for games was on prominent display. The problem is that this (admittedly cool) new hardware is very, very expensive right now: You can pick up a monitor, stylus controller and 3-D glasses for a cool $3,995 online. Here’s how it works: Those 3-D glasses have five passive markers that signal four cameras in the 24-inch LCD monitor. By moving one’s head in any direction, the picture on the screen adjusts, as if the objects displayed within it occupied real, three-dimensional space. Then, using a wired stylus with three physical buttons, users see a straight (virtual) line connecting the object in their hand to a mouse-like dot onscreen. To use a simple example, a cube on the screen can be looked at from multiple angles using just the glasses, then picked up, brought closer or moved farther away, rotated or moved somewhere else using the stylus. The video below shows the first part of that equation, as I pushed my phone camera up against the glasses lens and then moved the glasses back and forth in front of the monitor, traveling around a 3-D diagram of a heart. At its high price point, the zSpace is currently best suited for enterprise and educational customers seeking to, for instance, visualize data in three dimensions or (as in the video above) virtually study the structure of real-world objects. However, the company pointedly brought in a handful of video game professionals for its conference to get developers thinking about games on the monitor. Indeed, the most impressive demo on display at zCon — also found at GDC — was of the game engine Unity running its demo game AngryBots in 3-D.
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Cheap Mobile Games? Bah! Meet zSpace’s $4,000 3-D Monitor.