Why pseudo-3D PSP screen is likely to give us a headache

A cheap and cheerful Fresnel lens

Why pseudo-3D PSP screen is likely to give us a headache

True 3D imaging is a hot topic in terms of films like James Cameron's winter 2009 sci-fi flick Avatar, animated features, integration into standard TVs and some gaming applications.

The main problem with the technology, however, is that if the images that are sent to the left and right eyes aren't properly aligned, or if the viewer isn't sitting in a sweetpoint, the end result can be an headache, nausea or even the rapid and bilious return of your breakfast.

Hence the news that a little-known company is preparing a 3D screen for the PSP doesn't - yet - have us particularly excited.

The attachment, which is called the V-Screen, comes from Irish company RealView Innovations and is said to enhance the perceived depth of the 2D screen image.

Looking at a patent application from the company entitled Depth Enhancing Screen, it seems that the plan is to attached what's known as a Fresnel lens - a jagged multi-lens element which was originally designed for lighthouses - to the PSP. (See image: Fresnel lens compared to a normal single lens.)

The advantage of Fresnel lens is that it offers different areas of focus, which technology has its application in things like car headlights. The advantage of this approach for the PSP is that no changes have to be made to the software to get the effect - as would be required with games that support proper 3D imagery. Technically, you would have to render slightly different outputs for the left and right eye.

But they do so at the disadvantage of an overall loss of image quality and sharpness. And, in the case of 3D, your breakfast.

Still, with that scent of scepticism in the air, we'll withhold further judgement until images and details of the V-Screen are announced. At present, it's due for a winter 2009 release.