Local News

Digital Stereo Projection Helps Distance Learning and Medicine

Posted June 12, 1999 7:00 a.m. EDT

— Remember those old 3-D movies? You sat in the theater with cardboard glasses and watched things fly from the screen at you. A research scientist atN.C. State Universityhas combined the glasses with new technology to allow 3-D images of the real world to be projected or sent across the Internet.

"All structure from the atom on up is basically three-dimensional. What we are doing is facilitating the visualization of that," explains Dr. John Mackenzie.

Mackenzie's work with electron microscopes led him to develop the Digital Stereo Projection System.

Two small cameras atop a binocular microscope send individual, and slightly offset images, to projectors which reproduce the image on a screen.

The technology can be used for distance learning and medicine.

"You could think of it in terms of surgery," explains Mackenzie. "If you are doing telepresence surgery, you would really like to know how deep the knife is."

"It is actually impossible to show true 3-D on television," says Mackenzie.

Mackenzie demonstrates how recording in 3-D works by throwing balls at two slightly offset cameras.

"People duck when the balls come out of the screen at them," he says. "This is important in that it shows the experience. The three-dimensional experience is different than a two dimensional experience."

The equipment that graduate student Gary Case works with is expensive; however, Mackenzie hopes prices fall and the technology will be widely used to educate, entertain and enlighten.

"In the future people will be able to see it, people will be able to view it and then the full impact will really hit," says Mackenzie.

Mackenzie has already demonstrated the system on the Internet by sending real-time video using the 3-D projection system.

Dr. Mackenzie has also developed a three-dimensional computer screen display. The 3-D systems are used in theCollege of Agriculture and Life Sciences.