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COMPUTERS GO 3-D ACTUALDEPTH TECHNOLOGY OFF THE CHART IN NIFTINESS FACTOR.

Byline: Brent Hopkins Staff Writer

WESTLAKE VILLAGE - Steve Smith has a nifty gizmo, one that gives 3D video without leaving you seeing red or feeling blue.

As business development manager for Deep Video International, Smith handles a new computer monitor that offers three-dimensional images without distortion and, equally important, without those horrendous glasses.

The technology, marketed under the name actualdepth, combines two liquid crystal displays, with a transparent one stacked atop a traditional screen.

The result is a strikingly sharp picture that allows pictures to come bursting out of the flat screens while packing double the information onto a compacted area. The images were striking enough to draw scrutiny last month, when the device impressed viewers during its North American debut at the trade show DEMO 2002 in Phoenix, Ariz.

``It's the key to unlock the kingdom,'' Smith said of the sleek-looking monitor. ``Technology like this can take us to a lot of amazing places.''

Though its current price - about $6,000 for a 15-inch model - limits the number of potential customers, Smith has managed to find several applications for the display.

In its current size, it can function as a surgeon's monitor, flashing vital signs on the top transparent screen as the lower provides real-time video of a surgical probe. Shrunk down, the unit could be fitted into a plane's cockpit to squeeze map and radar information into one compact package.

And, Smith points out, think of its cool game potential.

``This industry is what's fun and what's practical,'' he said. ``Primarily, that's games and military use, and even those are becoming more and more similar.''

Whether packed into the cockpit of an F-14 maneuvering its way through a dogfight or on a home computer merely mimicking the action, Deep Video says, actualdepth technology stimulates the brain as much as 45 percent more quickly than does a traditional display.

``If you're presented with an array of data on a single plane, you treat it all on an equal basis,'' said Dan Evanicky, the firm's chief technology officer. ``If you're searching for a warning light, you have to look through all of it. However, if it's superimposed over each other, you see it much more quickly. All of a sudden, your brain has more techniques to find that piece of data.''

That split second probably doesn't matter to average home users trying to blast their way through level 17, but in a combat situation, Smith says, it could make all the difference.

``If you throw a warning onto the front screen, you get it just like that,'' he said, snapping his fingers. ``It may not seem like much, but when a pilot has those numbers that much quicker, it could save his life.''

Though the practical applications are what will keep Deep Video afloat as the technology establishes itself, it was the sheer niftiness that marveled tech writers who attended the DEMO showcase.

``Deep Video's actualdepth computer display is one of the loveliest I've seen,'' wrote Edward C. Baig of USA Today's CyberSpeak. ``Well, it ought to be; the 13.3-inch multidimensional LCD model I was drooling over costs about $3,600, and prices for larger screens climb from there.''

Though prices for the heftier displays still compete with small automobiles in price, a consumer version should be available within two years, priced below $1,000. The system requires no special software to drive it, just two video cards to plug into - similar to the setup needed for running two separate monitors.

Though the mass-market version remains an idea for the future, Smith and Deep Video are hard at work to find other ways to put the technology to work. Next off the line is an 18-inch model, and eventually they hope to miniaturize the screens for use on PDAs and cell-phone screens.

``It's a big leap,'' Smith admits. ``This is an immense industry, and if we're successful, this could be a minor revolution.''

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(color) Steve Smith of Deep Video International shows the company's 3-D computer monitor. The technology, marketed under the name actualdepth, combines two liquid crystal displays - with a transparent one stacked atop a traditional screen.

Tom Mendoza/Staff Photographer
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Mar 26, 2002
Words:696
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