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Lightspeed DepthQ Modulator - Summary

Posted on October 5, 2013 by Art Feierman

Lightspeed DepthQ Modulator - The Bottom Line

The DepthQ Modulator offers some distinct advantages. over systems that require active shutter glasses. One is that range is not an issue. Displaylink, used by most single chip DLP 3D projectors has limited range, so IR solutions can be employed instead, but it’s simpler with passive glasses – no issues at all. Using the modulator and passive glasses should also result in a brighter 3D image by 50% or more.

Another arguments raised in support of passive glasses systems (and therefore devices like the DepthQ Modulator) include less fatigue (I’m not certain about the science behind that claim though it has been a point of discussion,) and lighter more comfortable eyewear. As to the lighter eyewhere, that’s definitely currently true, but of late there have been some manufacturers showing lightweight, and even stylish, active shutter glasses. I tried on a pair not much heavier than my regular glasses. On the other hand, we all have to agree, that if you need lots of pairs of glasses, using passive glasses, sure eases the financial burden. That is one reason why 3D theaters in the US cineplexes are pretty much standardized on systems using passive glasses. Afterall, they might need 500 pair for a showing. I have pointed out about the lower cost of glasses, but there is another trade-off when price is a factor. With passive solutions you will need a special 3D screen material. More and more manufacturers are now shipping 3D screen surfaces.

In Conclusion:

While the Modulator could find its way into home theater setups, or high end 3D gaming setups, we suspect that commercial applications – and perhaps university scientific research will be the primary use. Another good application would be game developer systems. On that note, the Modulator is NVIDIA 3D Vision certified. That covers a lot of stuff, and also includes compatibility with PC played Blu-ray discs.

It should be noted that DepthQ also offers software. There are 3D players supporting different resolutions, and also HD 3D capture solutions.

Also of note, and a strength of using the DepthQ modulator is that it uses the full resolution for both eyes. That means 1280×720 per eye for 720p, and 1920×1080 for Full 1080p HD. Thus no loss of resolution, as is found in some other projector systems.

All considered, the Modulator is also an alternative to using two (stacked) 3LCD, LCoS or 3 chip DLP projectors to create a passive glasses system. When compared to using a pair of projectors, especially if you are going higher brightness, the modulator’s cost is partially or completely offset by needing one less projector.

Above, projected image through the DepthQ polarizer, captured as a still, with both channels visible.

Lightspeed also assists customers in developing full 3D visualization solutions for custom applications. They also offer specialized stereoscopic medical solutions for 3D visualization of surgical procedures.

We can definitely see higher end gaming projection solutions where the DepthQ Modulator would make sense, both for performance, and price. On the home theater front, I suspect it would pair beautifully with the soon to be released Runco LS10 their “entry level” 1080p 3 chip DLP projector. We’re talking a $25K plus price tag for the two, so its not for most of us. It just seems to be a price point where the Modulator really makes sense. Pairing it with a particularly bright lower cost projector would likely still create one of few affordable solutions that can tackle medium and larger screens. I point this out, because only the 2500 lumen LG (not really a home theater projector), claims much more than 1500 lumens. The new Sharp XV-Z17000 claims 1600 lumens.

All considered, the Modulator, provides an intriguing, and yet practical solution to a lot of potential 3D visualization and display requirements. The overall image performance if the Modulator resulted in a cleaner 3D picture than the other 3D systems we looked at at the same time. That list included a couple of other single chip DLP 720p resolution projectors, and also the LG CF3D. The Lightspeed Modulator system had the least visible crosstalk. I viewed movie clips, and plenty of provided medical imaging in 3D, on each of the systems. We're still rather early on in the mastering of 3D imaging, but the Modulator looks like a potential excellent solution for a number of applications, where the performance justifies the system cost.

Certainly for 3D projection, the DepthQ Modulator demands our Special Interest Award.

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