5 things you need to know about 3D technology

How does 3D work?There are two methods of 3D technology. The first is anaglyph – the older, more recognised method which uses colour filtered gl

There are two methods of 3D technology. The first is anaglyph – the older, more recognised method which uses colour filtered glasses to turn an otherwise blurry image into a 3D one. The process involves two images being superimposed over one another using two filters – usually one red, one blue. When you put the glasses on, the images are separated to give the appearance of depth.

The other method doesn't require glasses – instead two separate images are projected on to a lenticular screen and as long as you're looking at the image straight on, the images will come together to give you the 3D effect without any additional kit. This is the method that's bringing us the 3D cameras and TVs of our fevered dreams.

Does 3D work for everyone?

Some people with certain eye conditions may find it difficult to view 3D, and there are some issues with viewing the lenticular method for extended periods of times, as it has been known to cause headaches. It can be quite a strange thing to adjust to when you first see it without glasses, that's for sure.

What 3D technology is on the market?

You've probably noticed an increase in 3D films of late, and that's just one example of how public (and therefore industry) interest is being revived. Philips was the first manufacturer to release a 3D TV in 2007 (discontinued in March 2009 to work on a new one), but Panasonic, LG, Samsung, Mitsubishi and Sony have also confirmed that they have models in the pipeline. You can read more on how this works with Stuff.tv's 3DTV fast facts.

Taking a side step from cameras into webcams, Minoru is the world's first 3D webcam that will allow you to appear in 3D over Skype or any IM service, as long as the person watching you is wearing 3D glasses (you get five pairs free in the box).  

As well as that, Minoru will allow you to take 3D movies and pictures and upload them to YouTube, which has recently made way for 3D tech on its site. There's even a how to video to show you how to do it.

What's the future for 3D?

Expect a bigger emphasis on 3D gaming to come through over the next year or so – big names have shown an interest, including the likes of Sony, and the S3D Gaming Alliance has been formed to help developers with their 3D gaming projects. Blitz Games Studios' Invincible Tiger: The Legend of Han Tao is arguably one of the first games to support modern 3D technologies, but expect plenty more to follow.

On the smaller screen we of course have the recently-announced Sky 3D to look forward to, and after already trialling a few gigs and sporting events using the tech, it now plans to go full-steam ahead sometime next year.

Finally, Hitachi released a 3D mobile phone in Japan at the beginning of the year, Panasonic promised 3D Blu-rays in 2010 and Acer has also shown off a 3D laptop, so expect the technology to move into these areas in the not too distant future as well.

Is it worth investing in?

Well, interest in 3D certainly seems to be heating up recently but at the moment there is still quite a high price tag attached to any 3D kit out there. Until prices come down, it may be something largely for cinemas rather than in your own home. But as more manufacturers get involved and competition heats up prices can only get lower, so the future is definitely 3D.