3D Presentations for Everyone

By Heather Baldwin

Not long ago the idea of using 3D images in presentations sounded very futuristic. The technology was cumbersome, expensive and out of the realm of possibility for most presenters. But times have changed. Like computers and cellular telephones, the technology that enables presenters to show clients 3D images of their products is becoming ubiquitous and affordable. In the past month several companies have unveiled products designed specifically for presenters who need more than a two-dimensional image.

Sharp’s Actius RD3D. In mid-October Sharp Systems of America announced a notebook computer that incorporates Sharp’s TFT 3D LCD technology, which allows users to view 3D images with the naked eye. The 3D technology uses what Sharp calls a parallax barrier to divide and control light from the LCD so that different patterns reach the viewer’s left and right eyes. When centered in front of the display, each eye receives the correct visual information for the brain to process. This makes it possible for the image on the screen to appear in three dimensions without the user having to wear special goggles. Need to switch back to a PowerPoint slide? No problem. The notebook comes with a display panel that can be switched between 2D and 3D display modes with the touch of a button. The Sharp Actius RD3D is available immediately for an estimated street price of $3,299.

NGRAIN extends Mobilizer. NGRAIN Corp. has extended the capabilities of its Mobilizer product to integrate interactive 3D into PowerPoint 2003 and Microsoft Word 2003 documents. Mobilizer allows users to interact with models to rotate, move, zoom and draw; cross-section to experience true depth and internal elements; disassemble and reassemble part by part; trigger parts explosions for a quick view of all components in the model; step-through procedural animations; and hyperlink to external reference materials. The product was introduced in November for $495.

OfficeFX by Instant Effects. In October, Instant Effects announced OfficeFX, a PowerPoint plug-in that allows users to transform standard presentations into rich media events complete with dynamic 3D backgrounds and foregrounds and realistic shading and lighting. Instant Effects’ technology ships with several interactive 3D layered environments called FXThemes. According to the company, FXThemes are comparable in quality to animations used in broadcast television, high-profile telecasts and next-generation video game systems. OfficeFX, Instant Effects’ first product, sells for $150.