How Sony's 3D Split-screen-free Multiplayer TV Works

During their E3 press conference Sony said two players will be able to experience a multiplayer game on the same screen without splitscreen. You will require 3D glasses to experience it. So far all the gaming blogs are reporting the TV is what makes this possible. It's not... Well it is and it isn't. The real trick is in the glasses. I just wanted to make a quick post to stop the spread of misinformation out there.

I Think You Know This Part Already

Okay, so ordinarily what you're watching on a 3D TV is 3D content. That is, each eye is fed content filmed from a slightly different angle to emulate depth perception. Thus, your TV needs to be capable of showing two different images simultaneously. 3D televisions already do this, it's built in. What the glasses do is filter the content so that the left eye sees one image and the right eye sees another. This is done with polarization and there's quantum physics involved but I won't get into that. It's not important.

The Really Simple Explanation

Instead of polarizing the glasses for two different eyes, you polarize them for two different players. Thus, player one's glasses are both polarized one way and see one image, player two's glasses are polarized the other way and sees the other image. Essentially, player one and player two only get to see a 2D image but in return they get to play from the entire width of the screen.

Sony Tax

What I don't understand is why Sony is charging so much ($69) for extra glasses. Polarized lenses are cheap! Maybe it's the tech that allows the lenses to change polarization that costs so much... No, that's also cheap. You're paying Sony Tax for those glasses. If I had a Sony 3D TV and needed new 3D glasses I'd just make my own from those you get at the movies. These ThinkGeek De-3D Cinema Glasses sound like a real bargain at 14.99. They only sell them polarized for the right eye though. Perhaps if the TV takes off they'll consider left polarized versions.

Do I Need a New TV?

Highly doubt that. Any 3D TV already on the market can do this. But the glasses that came with it are probably polarized in only one way like the ones you get at the theaters. Nobody anticipated a need for the ability to change polarization. Again, you can just make your own pair from the cheap glasses they give out at 3D movies.

It's a rather brilliant use of a 3D display, actually. And hindsight being what it is I now wonder why it took so long for us to get this.


Kevin - #
June 8, 2011 at 2:42 AM
this is exactly what i was wondering as soon as i saw their new TV.
What is preventing me from using a larger-cheaper 3d TV instead of something that says Sony on it? probably nothing its the same technology.

those are some pricey "Sony glasses" when you think about what is actually happening
Alain-Christian - #
June 8, 2011 at 7:19 AM
Unless Sony does something shady like prevent you from using other 3D sets with your PS3 there's no reason why this couldn't work with other TVs. Hell, 3rd parties could sell glasses in sets of two for P1 and P2. No batteries required!
Anonymous - #
June 9, 2011 at 3:50 AM
TV screens don't use polarized light like the movies do, instead they use alternately-flashing images. The glasses aren't a "sony tax" on cheap polarized lenses, they're actually 2 (expensive-ish) LCD screens of some sort that flash from transparent to opaque really fast. You can read up on it elsewhere, but if you really need proof, try using cheap polarized glasses from a 3D movie on one of Sony's fancy TVs. It won't work.
Anonymous - #
June 12, 2011 at 2:44 PM
It depends on the TV's 3D technology. Some, usually plasmas, use polarization, and only require "passive" glasses. Most LCD/LED TV's use alternatively flashing images that require "active" glasses (which alternate shutters on each eye many times a second).
Anonymous - #
July 27, 2011 at 9:49 PM
this article is wrong. the 3d tech for tvs is not same as the cinemas. at least check the wikipedia before posting missinformation..
Alain-Christian - #
July 28, 2011 at 3:32 AM
I saw the comments about the tech using shutter glasses but by that point I kinda didn't care anymore and the info was in the comments anyway. (Also I've been silently enjoying the irony of posting this to stop the spread of misinformation yet in the process spreading a little myself. LOL)

But even though it's shutter glasses instead of polarization the principle is still the same:

- Two images are being streamed.
- Both players are shown opposite images.

You don't need new tech for that. You know how old shutter glasses are? Damn, they tried to make that work on computers in the 90s. Anybody remember that? Sold like canned spinach in a bodega. (Read: not very well.)

So there's a wiki now? When I created this there wasn't one. It was shortly after the announcement.

There's less misinformation here than you'll find in the other gaming blog that think there's anything new about this tech.

I'd be impressed if Sony were streaming FOUR alternating images and gave both players a 3D experience.
Alain-Christian - #
July 28, 2011 at 3:47 AM
So anon, I searched for that wiki you talked about and never found it. But I did find THIS video on Youtube:

So yeah, I was right the whole time:

- You don't need a Sony TV
- You can use glasses from the Theater
- Sony Tax

The article stays as it was written. Feels good man.
Anonymous - #
January 3, 2012 at 2:57 PM
Sorry for my low fantasy - but how does the audio work then?
Anonymous - #
June 27, 2012 at 12:37 AM
No you were wrong. The person in the video has a passive 3D TV. Active shutter glasses are used for TVs that require active shutter glasses since they do not polarize the light. Active shutter glasses are electronic devices. There is no Sony Tax. The Sony glasses are active shutter and are in fact one of the less expensive ones out there. You cannot use passive 3D glasses on an active 3D TV.

Yes I realize this is an old thread but talking about misinformation getting, corrected then remaining adamant that you were right is wrong.
Alain-Christian Seraphin - #
June 27, 2012 at 3:27 AM
Dear Anon (June 27, 2012 12:37 AM),

I left the article as-is is because it explains pretty clearly how Sony found a creative use for already available technology. The difference between passive glasses and shutter glasses are semantics. I wasn't aware that home televisions were still using shutter glasses for 3D. Polarization is what I'm most familiar with. The bottom line and the whole point of the article was to explain why you don't need a new 3D television to do this.

Re: Sony Tax

LOL! In my defense that was before I knew they were active shutter glasses. As I said before I'm enjoying the irony so the article stays as-is. I dunno. I mean, I probably should change it but the irony is so palpable! This article is still more informed than what I was seeing from tech blogs. I mean, immediately after they made the announcement at E3 I was like, "Of course! Why did it take so long for this to happen? It's so obvious in hindsight!"
Alain-Christian Seraphin - #
June 27, 2012 at 3:32 AM
Dear Anon (January 3, 2012 2:57 PM),

Polyphonic: the same as it is now. When you played Goldeneye deathmatches against your bro did you have trouble telling the sound effects from your side of the screen apart from his? Of course not. You react to what's meant from you and filter out the rest. You should be used to this by now.
Anonymous - #
September 12, 2012 at 4:08 PM
I did a Google search for "active shutter glasses for split screen gaming" and this article was in the top 10.

Just a shout anyone like me, this article will not help you use your active 3D TV to do split -> full screen gaming. I have searched for hours and have not been able to find anyone who sells left-eye/left-eye and right-eye/right-eye active 3D glasses.

The comments talk about how old shutter tech is, but If it's so old any easy why aren't people selling glasses to customers like me who want them?

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