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Displays Patents PlayStation (Games) Sony Games Build

Sony Developing 3D Screen-Sharing Technology For Two Players 174

Posted by Soulskill
from the hey-an-actual-useful-feature dept.
Stoobalou writes "Sony has recently published patent applications which will allow two-player 3D gaming on a single screen. The new technology could spell an end to split-screen gaming, but is unlikely to see the light of day for a few years at least. Sony's method would allow player one to see frames one and three whilst player two would see frames two and four. Current technology requires a display with a 120 Hz refresh rate so it seems likely that we'll have to wait for 240Hz screen technology to become commonplace before two-player 3D becomes a reality. PDF versions of the two applications are available."
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Sony Developing 3D Screen-Sharing Technology For Two Players

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  • Oh hell no (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 21, 2010 @06:51AM (#32975640)

    Screw that, i'll stick to my elaborate connection of SCART splitters, phono leads, 2 TVs and some black paper with some sticky Blu-tack.

    Get off my lawn, Future.

  • by slim (1652)

    So, no more sociable gaming sessions where a couple of people take their turn race/fight/whatever and other people watch.

    I suppose as long as the game also supports a traditional split screen mode, it'll still work out -- and that mode will have to continue to exist for quite a while, as long as many people don't have 3D hardware.

    • by Lundse (1036754)

      So, no more sociable gaming sessions where a couple of people take their turn race/fight/whatever and other people watch.

      Use your normal 3D glasses from the cinema, and change player POV by closing one eye or the other...

      • Can you polarise light in more than two directions and still have the images separate? Because this system is talking about displaying 4 separate images, not just two. Though I hadn't even heard of it being done just for two images for local multiplayer. It's a very cool idea, I'd like to see it even without the 3D aspect.

        • Can you polarise light in more than two directions and still have the images separate?

          You don't need to. This doesn't use polarization to separate the images in the way you seem to be thinking. They do not transmit one eye's image with horizontal polarization, and the other eye's image with vertical polarization. (Actually, old systems didn't use horizontal and vertical, but 45 degrees and 135 degrees. The systems in the theatres today use clockwise and counterclockwise circular polarization. This al
          • Thanks - though for the shutter glasses part I've known how it works for over a decade, I just don't really have the required physics background to understand polarisation properly.

            I think the poster I was responding to must just not have realised that this article is about dual 3D rather than dual 2D. Seems dual 3D is not possible with a passive system.

          • by hesiod (111176)

            Wouldn't this still mess with you? Sure, you are seeing 60fps in each eye, but then you are seeing that frame for 1/4th as long as you would have (or 1/2 in the case of 3D or 2Player 2D) -- since each eye's shutter will be closed for 3/4 of each of the 60 frames. I don't know much about how the optic nerves work, so I guess the brain could make up for the missing time...

        • nope, the polarisation only has two dimensions to play with.
          essentially, the orientation of the wave is x/y vector perpendicular to the direction of motion.

          you can split the x/y to get two independent components, or (maths more complicated) split two orientations of circular polarisations out.

          any other additions simply interfere with the two components you are taking out.

          essentially, your carrier (the polarisation vector) only has two dimensions - so you can only get two non-interfering signals.

        • by hedwards (940851)
          Technically yes, but it's a really, really hard thing to do. You'd have to quadruple the frame rate, then manage a way of changing the orientation of the polarization at each frame. And unfortunately since polarizing filters have maximum effect at a 90 degree angle you're stuck with covering lenses at some points to ensure that the wrong person doesn't get the effect. Mainly because the minimum effect is at 0 and 180 degrees. You can somewhat offset that by going at angles less ideal, but then you have to p
          • So current polarisation projectors display different polarisations on alternating frames? I had previously thought that one advantage of the passive system is that you don't need to only be showing an image to one eye at a time, but I guess with framerates of 60Hz for each eye then it just isn't really noticeable anyway.

      • by dangitman (862676)

        Use your normal 3D glasses from the cinema, and change player POV by closing one eye or the other...

        Except that the current crop of 3D TVs for the home don't work with the cheap glasses from the cinema. They require expensive glasses that actively sync with the TV.

    • by thijsh (910751)
      Yeah, this is a great disadvantage of 3D... But a technology to allow multiple players to compete in 3D (without spectators being able to watch) is doomed to fail since it is already obsolete... We will more likely see consoles with 3D display glasses per player. Playing 3D with 1, 2, 4 or more per console is trivially easy (only limited by the bandwidth of the transmission mechanism), more likely even is this: the glasses will one day even *be* the console, and allow you to start a LAN party just by gettin
    • by skids (119237)

      Traditional split screen barely exists as it is. Very few games support couch-coop
      these days... despite the screaming of people who actually like to physically visit
      their friends and game. See here [cooptimus.com] to get an
      idea just how pathetic the selection is.

      While it's good to see people think towards 3D split-screen A) patent wars will as
      usual keep the technology lagging for years and years and B) all the game
      developers are currently planning of using any computing resources they would
      for split-screen to support 3D.

  • Quick.... (Score:3, Informative)

    by ErroneousBee (611028) <neil:neilhancock,co,uk> on Wednesday July 21, 2010 @06:56AM (#32975672) Homepage
    Somebody get a patent on 2 player games in 2d, where player 1 sees frame 1, and player 2 sees frame 2.
    • by supersat (639745)
      I made a poster about this very idea for my elementary school's "invention fair" about 20 years ago. I've probably got the poster around somewhere. Maybe I'll scan it and place it on the Internet as prior art? It certainly had many aspects of today's systems -- LCD glasses synced by IR, individual audio over IR, etc.
  • When elephants dance (Score:3, Informative)

    by ciaran_o_riordan (662132) on Wednesday July 21, 2010 @06:56AM (#32975674) Homepage

    Sony was the target of a 3D patent in 2004:

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2004/11/04/mckool_smith_lawsuit_update/ [theregister.co.uk]

    Their legal department might be trying to recuperate their costs now by suing others. It's a game that benefits no one. Meanwhile, Sony is part of the MPEG-LA consortium that's preventing free software and SMEs from including support for MPEG video formats, so they deserve no good will.

    http://en.swpat.org/wiki/MPEG_video_formats [swpat.org]
    http://en.swpat.org/wiki/Harm_to_standards_and_compatibility [swpat.org]

    When a video doesn't play, or when a company expresses doubt about supporting a free format, it's due to MPEG-LA.

    • by ciaran_o_riordan (662132) on Wednesday July 21, 2010 @07:09AM (#32975718) Homepage

      I'm working now on gathering software patent info related to Sony.

      * http://en.swpat.org/wiki/Sony [swpat.org]

      Help welcome.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by GauteL (29207)

      "It's a game that benefits no one"

      Not true. It benefits the lawyers and the rest of the legal industry massively.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by h7 (1855514)

      I wonder how only American companies got all these patents. Were the Europeans sleeping while all these standards were created and patented?

    • Sony was the target of a 3D patent in 2004:

      http://www.theregister.co.uk/2004/11/04/mckool_smith_lawsuit_update/ [theregister.co.uk]

      Their legal department might be trying to recuperate their costs now by suing others.

      Slow down, Hoss. They haven't sued anyone. You should read the article rather than charging ahead with your anti-software patent bandwagon, particularly since these involve hardware.

      • You could be right about them being hardware patents. (I was wrong before, regarding the CSIRO patents [swpat.org], which seem to be hardware patents.)

        The point of documenting the situation is so that we can evaluate just once, write it down with the reasoning, and have clarity for the next time.

        What parts of the patents seem to imply they're tied to hardware?

        Could I infringe them by writing new software and using it with standard hardware? (If so, then they're software patents)

        Help very welcome.

        • You could be right about them being hardware patents. (I was wrong before, regarding the CSIRO patents [swpat.org], which seem to be hardware patents.)

          The point of documenting the situation is so that we can evaluate just once, write it down with the reasoning, and have clarity for the next time.

          What parts of the patents seem to imply they're tied to hardware?

          Could I infringe them by writing new software and using it with standard hardware? (If so, then they're software patents)

          Help very welcome.

          Oh, come on... Click on the two PDFs in the summary. They're for hardware, not simply software. In fact, even the method that they claim involves a bunch of hardware including synchronized shutters.

  • It is just multiple shutter glasses running at 240+ hertz. Frame one is in the right eye of player one, frame two in the right eye of player two, frame three in the left eye of player one, and frame four in the left eye of player two.

    What would be better would be normal multi-player with shutter glasses. (example: in a 4 player game every player sees only their frames and cannot see the other players pov. A person w/o a set of glasses would see a set of blurry images.)
    • There's no reason they can't do that. I skimmed the PDFs of the patent. All they have to do is transmit separate audio to each pair of glasses, and shutter them appropriately.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by sea4ever (1628181)
      I don't like this idea though. While playing games I usually would have my girlfriend present to cheer me on.
      Every so often she would cheer for someone else who had the highest kill streak at the time.
      With this system though, she'd have to switch glasses every few seconds. How would she scan each viewpoint to find the one most worth watching? This is only OK for the gamers..the spectators lose out a lot from this.
  • The new technology could spell an end to split-screen gaming

    I'm wary of patients too, but can this really happen. I understand lawyers are paid to fight their clients corner and not pay attention to anything else. Could any one give examples of one widely used feature being banned or avoided due to a superficial similarity with a newer patented technology.

  • The LCD blinds goggles for 3D gaming reduce perceived screen brightness by half.
    It seems this invention would reduce it by 3/4.

  • I imagine the specialized goggles needed for this would be more expensive than just getting a second monitor.

    • by lmnfrs (829146)

      No kidding. I remember a whole 8-9 years ago, it took the arms of.. well one guy to lug an Xbox around and carefully unravel and connect that "network" cable. For gaming, this sounds as revolutionary as a flower pot with flowers on it.

    • by SharpFang (651121)

      Specialized goggles, nope. They would be about the same 3D goggles as in current use, maybe with slightly better LCD blinds.

      A 240Hz+ refresh rate screen and a gfx card to pull that off, now THAT would cost arm and leg.

      • by cgenman (325138)

        You don't really *need* a 240Hz screen. Or rather, you only need one if you want to game at 60FPS. If you're willing to accept a 30FPS rate (the standard in the playstation era, and faster than a movie framerate) you can do it on 120 Hz. The console probably wants to run at that framerate anyway, since I doubt it wants to render a single-player's worth of junk twice as fast as normal.

        • by SharpFang (651121)

          I played in standard 3D goggles at 80Hz. No, it doesn't work. You NEED 60Hz per eye.

          If the image is held up, 30ms image, 3ms flicker of image change (usually a blur of the previous and next), 30ms image - standard effect of frame rate drop, then the 30Hz it's okay. The flicker lasts too short to be noticed and is a blend of the two anyway. Nothing to see.

          This is not the case here. At 80Hz you get 5ms of image, then 1ms of blending to black, then 5ms of darkness, then 1ms blending to next image. The rapid fl

  • Shutter glasses running that fast but skipping every other frame means that each eye would see only 1 out of 4 frames. I am guessing with so little "on" time, it will start to damage perceived image persistence and it is likely the brain will start to notice flicker. The image would also seem to be 1/4 brightness instead of 1/2 brightness like a single 3D image. Then add that with a single view (player), the two images are very similar in brightness and appearance. But if you interleave that with anothe

    • by SharpFang (651121)

      With refresh fast enough (ZOMG 240Hz at very least) this will not be issue. But 1/4th the light getting into the eye would better get a very bright screen or it will be very, very dark.

      • by dangitman (862676)

        But 1/4th the light getting into the eye would better get a very bright screen or it will be very, very dark.

        1/4 the light is only two stops (photographically speaking) difference. Given that the LED displays I've been seeing lately are so blindingly bright that you turn down the brightness to a very low setting, I don't think it will be much of an issue.

  • by pandrijeczko (588093) on Wednesday July 21, 2010 @07:23AM (#32975782)

    I'm not sure I can ever remember a time when I suddenly stopped playing an FPS game because the "3D simulation on a 2D screen" wasn't immersive enough for me - but I can remember stopping many games because they were crap.

    Likewise, I cannot remember staring at a movie in the cinema or on a TV screen and not feeling immersed enough due to flat screen images - but I can remember walking out of crap movies in cinemas or turning off crap DVDs.

    I'm also old enough to remember movies like Jaws 3D which were released *SPECIFICALLY* to showcase 3D but were ultimately crap movies... Avatar was very pretty, I'm pleased I saw it but was ultimately just a series of graphical set pieces strung together by a simple plot.

    3D in entertainment is a gimmick & marketing tool, nothing more. It turns everything into eye candy which means your brain spends more time looking at stuff rather than wondering about the quality of the plot and the content - if you look at most stuff that's released as entertainment these days, it's clear to see quality standards have dropped, everything now is about marketing and branding.

    And as such, the technology companies are in the pay of the entertainment companies to force 3D on consumers so they can continue to churn out mainstream rubbish remakes.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by esme (17526)

      No -- 3D is just a less mature technology, and like sound and movies before them, it'll go through a fad phase before the novelty wears off and somebody gets around to using it to make art.

    • Ah, but you are missing the BIG idea here!

      Forget the 3d crap, with this tech we can now have 4 player 2d coop on ONE SCREEN!
      No more tiny/stretched boxes, no more "Screen Watching", no more "Only 2 player" and "Only 1 player per console" etc...

      ^_^ This is the biggest advancement in actual game tech I have heard from in years!
      • Yes, I agree that your description of an application for this technology sounds like fun - but then it's no longer "3D" is it? More like "screen multiplexing"...

        Even then, do you *REALLY* see such an application being allowed by games companies when it might reduce sales of multiple consoles or multiple games?

    • by dido (9125)

      I remember a silent movie actress named Mary Pickford once said that adding sound to movies would be like adding lipstick to the Venus de Milo. You seem similarly dismissive of an immature technology whose artistic possibilities have only barely been explored. You seem to be betting, just like Ms. Pickford did before you, that it'll never see artistic application in the hands of an imaginative filmmaker who would find a way to make it break out of its gimmicky underpinnings. I hope you don't put down a s

    • by bjourne (1034822)
      I think you forgot to mention that you do not appreciate trespassers on your lawn, especially not if they come in full 3d.
      • Correct - and when I am in my front garden weeding the flower beds, I also wave down drivers who are speeding on the road going past my house - yes, I'm an old duffer but that just means I've seen more in my time to make comparisons against, plus my cynicism gland is fully matured.

    • "Up" was a fantastic movie in 3D with an engaging story and credible characters. Sure, it wasn't Casa Blanca or the Ten Commandments, but not much is.

      As for Avatar, its one of the few movies I've seen in my life where audiences consistently applauded at the ending. Obviously it engaged people the way art is supposed to do.

      Movies are an art form. Some art sucks, some is good, but nobody will ever agree on which is which. My wife still thinks "Dude, where's my car?" was a great movie, and that the "Lord o

    • by cgenman (325138)

      Check out Pixar's Toy Story 3. It's the most mature usage of 3D I've ever seen. And by that, I mean you almost never notice it. It's like background music: it heightens the experience subtly without abusively sticking out.

      I would like to see some sort of study where one group of people saw a well-produced 3D film, one group saw the same film in 2D, and they rated the emotional impact. Personally, I'm guessing the 3D group would say that there was more impact, but wouldn't attribute it to the 3D.

    • by MrNemesis (587188)

      If word of the hype machine and some of my friends who saw Avatar is to be believed, 3D makes everything that was once crap entirely utterly awesome. You're just being cynical and refusing to embrace The Future.

      Personally, I'm looking forward to a re-release of Superman 64 [wikipedia.org] on my 3D TV. It'll be like the entire games room is enveloped in purple fog [digitpress.com]!

    • by Aceticon (140883)

      Look at HD and how all that's HD is sold as so much better that SD and how we should buy new TV Sets and Blu-Ray players and get all our movie collection again this time in Blu-Ray disks ...

      In the same way, 3D is the next gimmick that's supposed to help consumer electronics to sell us new TV sets and new players and media companies to sell us (once more) our movie collections in a new format.

  • Non obvious?! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Zone-MR (631588) * <slashdot@NOspAm.zone-mr.net> on Wednesday July 21, 2010 @07:36AM (#32975840) Homepage

    I thought a requirement for patents was for the 'idea' to be non-obvious to a skilled professional in the field.

    I don't work in the field of display technology, but the second I read the headline I knew how it could be achieved with a trivial modification to the LCD shutter glasses.

  • by Errol backfiring (1280012) on Wednesday July 21, 2010 @07:36AM (#32975846) Journal
    Using existing channel separation to (shock!) separate channels is really so obvious that I would never even imagine to apply for a patent. The US Patent Office should have lost its right to handle patents long ago, as they are only hurting society with their "we grant everything" attitude. They are not capable at all.
    • These aren't actually patents. They're merely published applications.

      Also, one minor irony is that attorneys generally complain that we don't know how to do our jobs because we reject everything.

    • Using existing channel separation to (shock!) separate channels is really so obvious that I would never even imagine to apply for a patent. The US Patent Office should have lost its right to handle patents long ago, as they are only hurting society with their "we grant everything" attitude. They are not capable at all.

      Know how I know you don't understand the difference between "published" and "issued"? The USPTO hasn't looked at these applications yet except to publish them. The Slashdot Readership should have lost its right to complain about patents long ago, as they're only hurting society with their FUD.

  • by Hadlock (143607) on Wednesday July 21, 2010 @07:39AM (#32975862) Homepage Journal

    You realize that by only seeing half the frames produced by the TV, even if the resulting video appears to be 30fps in 3D, will by default be half the brightness of the original TV, not counting whatever light reduction (and you thought 3D glasses were dark already!) you get from the fancy 3D glasses.
     
    Eventually you're going to hit a point where you just say, "you know, let's just spring for the twin-screen 720p display glasses" for $1000 and call it a day. $700 for a pair of video glasses a decade ago was stupid money, now it's looking like a much better option for 3D.
     
    Fun fact: movie theater projectors only project light on the screen 50% of the time; the other half of the time is spent with the shutter closed while the film progresses to the next frame.... you just make up for the 50% reduction in light by using a $150 xenon bulb the size of a NFL regulation football that has to be handled with gloves, full face mask and shrapnel suit -> cool youtube video example (not me!) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SVpD8SWzKFM [youtube.com] DLP projectors are much more efficient since about 90% of the light makes it to the screen (the mirrors are always moving, but there's still the color wheel) so they can use a smaller bulb.

    • by tagno25 (1518033)

      DLP projectors are much more efficient since about 90% of the light makes it to the screen (the mirrors are always moving, but there's still the color wheel) so they can use a smaller bulb.

      And multiple DLP chip projectors are even better, since nearly 100% of the light makes it to the screen (each chip is for a set color)

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by mcgrew (92797) *

      I worked at a drive-in theater when I was a teenager. The projectors there and presumably all drive-ins used arc lamps. [wikipedia.org] The lamp's rod was adjusted every reel or two, and replaced when they became too short.

  • Seems like a pretty cool idea to me. Especially in games where you get a much better experience will a full screen view (driving, exploring, platform, 3d, hell anything really)

    The thought of a four player gauntlet type game where each player sees a view centred around their own player (and only the areas of the game where they have visited) would be pretty nifty and would encourage communication between players sitting on the sofa rather than having to contend with a bunch of 13 year olds shouting obsceniti

    • by delinear (991444)
      It might not be great for spectators, but it would also be better for deathmatch type games, where having split screen takes away some of the fun because you can see your opponent is waiting around the next corner. Mind you, I can stomach about an hour, maybe 90 minutes of cinema 3D glasses tops, so I can't see me ever getting into 3D in the home unless something is drastically improved (not to mention, as a spectacle wearer already and pretty short-sighted at that, just the practicality of wearing 3D glass
  • Give me full screen 2- or 4- player! If you can get 2-player now with 120Hz, do that! Stereographic 3D is a gimmick; 4 person full screen deathmatch is PURE AWESOME.

    Seriously, if you can do 3D using two frames, make that other frame for another player. You could print money with that gaming technology.
  • I'm pretty sure that I saw people doing this on the Meant to be seen DIY forums (http://mtbs3d.com/phpBB/viewforum.php?f=26) quite some time back. In that case they did use two different consoles plugged into the different machines of course; and they used polarized glasses. It might be that this is supposed to be a complete system for it. (All the way from console rendering the frames to syncing the glasses.)

    As an aside I can recommend anyone who has access to an old "silver screen" to make their own 3D pr

  • It's the refresh rate that's difficult, not extrapolating from alternate frames = 2 eyes to every 4th frame = 4 eyes = 2 players.

    If not, I would like to hereby stake my claim to n-player 3D technology, requiring every 2n frame to be shown to a given eye and a n*120mhz refresh rate.

    Also the cheapy version: n-player 2D, with glasses that show the same thing to both eyes, each pair of glasses displays every nth frame and only requires a n*60hz refresh rate.

  • Cute idea, it could realistically mean 2D for two different people already. Feel real' sorry for the onlookers though. Stereoscopy is headache-inducing enough when the images flicker back and forth but two different images would give anyone a seizure.

    By the time 240hz come around (only see it happening with DLP with multiple synced projectors) you could even have 4 players seeing a different 2D image.

  • What if they made a game where both 3D views were meant to be seen by the same player? It would add a second layer to the main game - like that game where you can only see ghosts through your camera. You could have the ordinary world, then flip a switch on your shutter glasses and you can see a second world layered on top. Like jumping between worlds in Silent Hill.
    • by delinear (991444)
      Apart from the addition of a pair of unwieldy 3D glasses and the extra resources required to show two views at once when the player is only ever going to see one of them at a time, I don't see what that would add over a button that switched between two views.
  • BAH! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Lumpy (12016) on Wednesday July 21, 2010 @09:14AM (#32976674) Homepage

    Why not something innovative like...

    Player 1 sees frame 1 NOT in 3d.
    Player 2 sees frame 2 NOT in 3d
    Player 3 sees frame 3 NOT in 3d
    Player 4 sees frame 4 NOT in 3d.

    Why? so all 4 players get the full screen for playing. eliminates the tiny square in the corner effect and makes the game a lot more fun for multi player.

    also it eliminates the douchebaggery of friends that look at the other windows to see where you are.

    3d is worthless, give us real advances in gaming.

    this also could be used for regular TV. I watch Show 1, the wife can watch Show 2 with headphones on.

    • by delinear (991444)
      I'd love to be able to split the screen between a normal 2D view of a game and television or a movie, and it seems like the tech to do that right now should be reasonably trivial. Living with a partner who isn't into games, and being someone who isn't really into TV, this would mean neither had to sacrifice time in front of the idiot box so the other could use it. Also, it would have been a godsend when I lived at home with my parents - being able to blast away on the console while they watched crummy made-
  • These are application publications, not issued patents. In fact, the patent office hasn't even assigned an examiner to look at these applications, much less actually judged them on their merits.

1 1 was a race-horse, 2 2 was 1 2. When 1 1 1 1 race, 2 2 1 1 2.

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