Hands-on with the SpatialLabs Stereoscopic 3D display on Acer’s new ConceptD
Acer’s new ConceptD laptop has a 3D display. Yes, you read that right. Frankly, it’s pretty cool. It’s called SpatialLabs, and it tracks your eye movements to create varied images that look three-dimensional. Most importantly, you don’t need glasses or any special equipment.
I know what you’re thinking. This sounds a lot like the RED Hydrogen One, except it’s a laptop with RTX 30 series graphics instead of a smartphone. While they do seem similar, there are some key differences. For one thing, RED was very much focused on content consumption, making deals with movie studios to sell movies in their content format. Also, RED really thought that its phones were going to become mainstream.
Now that the elephant is out of the room, we can just say that Acer’s goals are totally different. ConceptD is a lineup that’s made for creators. If you’re doing things like 3D modeling, this is an easy way to see your work without needing a mixed reality headset. There are also some cool 3D animation use cases here as well.
How Acer SpatialLabs works
There are two key components to Acer SpatialLabs: the camera and the display.
First is the stereo camera, which tracks your eyes and your head. It’s suggested that you sit 35cm to 75cm from the screen, and only move 17cm to the left or right.
Based on eye and head tracking, it creates two images that you’re seeing. Your brain merges those images into one 3D image. Keep in mind that since it’s using that to create depth, it can take a little while for the machine to adjust. If you’re moving around a lot while viewing this content, you could get a little dizzy, or at least that was my experience. It’s hard to focus if you keep moving back and forth.
But also, there’s some content that’s meant for you to move around. For example, there’s an Unreal Engine demo that actually lets you look left, right, up, and down. If you’ve ever tried to look around your screen as if you’d see more, this is your lucky day.
Here’s the difference between those two scenarios though. The latter is just adjusting based on your perspective. But with the former, it’s actually rendering differently. This is all being rendered in real-time thanks to NVIDIA’s RTX graphics.
The other part of this is the Stereoscopic 3D display. The screen has an optical lens bonded on top of it. After the two images (one for each eye) are created, they refract through the lens to where the eyes are. At any time, you can switch between 2D and 3D modes.
Hands-on with the 3D Stereoscopic display
The experience is really cool, but it does take some getting used to. When Acer first demoed this for me, I didn’t realize that it was creating depth based on my eyes. I’d find myself moving back and forth in an attempt to focus. This just made it worse, since it didn’t give the ConceptD notebook time to compensate for my movement.
In the video below, I actually cut a hole in a piece of cardboard and recorded it through that. I also wore sunglasses so it would track the camera instead of my eyes.
You can see that throughout the demos, there’s some work and there’s some play. The cooler stuff includes some of the 3D videos and such, but that’s not exactly what this is aimed at. You’ll see other demos using apps like Blender, Unreal Engine, and more.
Acer is launching a SpatialLabs developer program, for which you can apply until June 30, 2021. If you’re accepted, the company will send you a ConceptD SpatialLabs prototype for three months at no charge. You can apply here.