Ah, the dream of glasses-free 3D that came and went with Nintendo handhelds and Toshiba TVs. Well, the flame hasn’t been completely extinguished if Acer’s ConceptD SpatialLabs 3D laptop is anything to go by. Part of the company’s line for designers and arty types, the ConceptD SpatialLabs laptop uses a 15.6in 4K 2D display with a liquid crystal lenticular lens on top to form a screen that can be switched between 2D and 3D views. This is combined with a stereoscopic camera to track your head and eyes, allowing creators to examine their work in real time and 360° without the need for twatty specs. The camera generates information about your head position, so move slightly to the left or right and it will rotate 3D models accordingly. The display is set to 2D mode by default until you launch the SpatialLabs Experience Center, where 3D mode allows it to display a different image to each eye. The laptop’s target market is niche at best (animators, CAD designers and game designers), which is why Acer has announced a developer programme for Unreal Engine – considered the most powerful real-time 3D creation platform, behind games like Fortnite and shows like The Mandalorian. It's a prototype for now, but the idea of an oversized Nintendo 3DS to make spreadsheets pop has got us all a-quiver.
Acer’s UK HQ is located in the unsexiest place possible, close to Heathrow’s permanently grey ring road, but behind closed doors there’s a feast for the eyes. In a demo room, we're placed in front of what looks like a pretty standard white laptop... but with a couple of mouse clicks, the ConceptD StatialLabs changes everything.
It’s Nintendo 3DS smarts, but the display is bigger, the resolution is on a different level and we're using our head to rotate game characters. It’s pretty mesmerising to see what’s on the screen floating in front of you as if you could touch it. Then we switch to sport, and find ourselves trying to catch balls and snapped bats jumping out at us.
We know 3D has had more false starts than the Grand National, and you’d probably be a fool to back this particular horse too, but sod it – we never really wanted TV makers to drop 3D anyways, so we're sold.