By George Cole
Optoma 762RM's Optoma 762 projectorWe live in a three-dimensional world, yet almost all the pictures and videos we view are in 2D. But at BETT a number of suppliers, including RM, were showing 3D systems designed for the classroom.

“It’s very exciting for education, in terms of what it can do for displaying video to students,” says RM’s Nick Ross. The basic kit consists of a 3D-ready projector (RM was using an Optoma 762 projector, which costs around £650 ex VAT), Stereoscopic Player software from (a commercial licence costs around £90), LCD goggles (around £50 each) and a plain white surface. “A 3D-ready projector costs around £300 more than a comparable standard projector, so it’s not a massive leap to opt for a 3D model” says Nick Ross.

A 3D-ready projector can output a video signal at 120 Hertz frequency (twice the normal frequency rate), which is needed for displaying 3D images. The Stereoscopic Player software processes 3D movie files so they are output in the right format, while the LCD glasses use shutters which switch at a 60Hz frequency, so that each eye sees a different image – this produces the sensation of depth.

RM’s system worked well, and the footage on-show included a human thorax, allowing viewers to conduct a virtual tour around the heart, lungs and rib cage, plus a city view. “3D could be a boon for subjects such as science and geography,” says Nick Ross. Note that you can’t convert 2D video footage to 3D format, and so schools thinking about investing in 3D technology need to check what 3D software is available – and how much it costs. (Some companies, like BETT newcomer LG, produce flat-screen plasma TV panels which contain processors that can convert 2D video to 3D 'on the fly' , producing an illusion of 3D without need of special glasses.)

More information

See also BBC coverage of the Texas Instruments 3D pilot at the Abbey School, Reading, run by deputy head (operations and communications) Kathryn Macaulay.

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