The particular page details one of three such projects with the Physical Optics Corporation (P.O.C.) of Torrance, California. This project is entitled "3-D Visualization System for Robotic Teleoperations" and is described as fololows.
High quality, real time 3-D visualization system with no position restrictions for viewing and no hardware for the viewer to wear.That´s interesting in itself. But the potential bombshell is hidden under the heading ´Commercialization´:
* $750,000 contract with U.S. Army to develop technology for medical imagingI have just had a very interesting conversation with Rick Shie, the company´s senior vice president. To begin with, I tried to pull the old trick on him, presupposing what you are actually asking about. So I asked him outright about Nintendo´s $300,000 involvement and what practical use the gaming giant was getting out of this investment. His answer was to note that he got plenty of mails about this matter today, already. He then went on to say that he is bound by a non-disclosure agreement (N.D.A.) and couldn´t say too much about it. Mr. Shie didn´t confirm the company in question was Nintendo, but he also never denied it. Given the fact that I boldly presupposed the connection in my question, I regard this a very likely scenario. Every company with such a contract is bound by an N.D.A., but that doesn´t prevent them telling people who they´re NOT working with.
* $300,000 of support from Japanese company to develop for game applications
If this is true, an important question remains, though: Is Nintendo trying to implement this technology with the Revolution? Or are they merely gearing it up for future use? To answer this, let´s briefly go into the technology involved. The project is internally referred to as a "3-D Real-Time Video Display System". These two images are courtesy of P.O.C.
* The components are a triple-CPU computer network called ´Chromium Cluster´ for processing the images provided by a 3D-input source. Each CPU contains a 1.6GHz Pentium 4 processor with 512 MB of DDR. Incidentally, didn´t Iwata mention the same RAM specification? I am no hardware buff, so this could just be a coincidence, I guess.
* The data is forwarded to two LCD projectors generating a stereoscopic image (meaning one image for each eye) via turning mirrors (to flip the image, I guess).
* This is projected onto a holographic display screen (built into some kind of table in the prototype shown, but other implementations are possible). The screen makes the system unique, because it does away with goggles or any other hardware the viewer would need to wear.
* The last important component is the interfacing software. It is compatible with "Windows PC based 3-D software such as OGL (Open Graphic Language), Direct X, 3D Max, and MAYA.OBJ. The software will work with operating engines such as LINUX and Quake III."
This last point is very important to note, because this means games will not have to be specially programmed to be compatible with this technology. Rick Shie specifically mentioned that he had demonstrated the technology to people who had brought their laptops with them and plugged them in to see their own 3D data (from CAD programs or 3DS Max), transform into true 3D.
I asked Mr. Shie if all these components could be packaged in a videogame console for a maximum price of $450 (which I believe is the maximum amount a console could cost its manufacturer). He said that the major cost components are the projectors and the clients would have to assess the quality - price ratio. The holographic screen, he said, could easily be mass produced. He did say, however, that the best possible application, in his mind, was in arcade halls. So it´s still possible that they are actually working with Sega or Namco on this one and it´s destined to become the next arcade blockbuster. But still, a home version of this technology is "possible to implement," according to Shie.
Also, its big advantage over previous 3D systems is that the system is ´frequency matched´, significantly reducing symptoms of fatigue and strain on the eyes. I am sure we would all agree that this would be Nintendo´s first and foremost pre-requisite for getting back into 3D visuals (after the Virtual Boy fiasco).
Lastly, let´s discuss if the company would be up to the job of supplying a videogame giant. P.O.C. is one of those companies that impact on almost everyone´s life but who noone has ever heard of. They are a small systems integrator with a very varied portfolio. they are apparently very big in the cellphone sector, supplying displays to global players in this market. They also do lots of government research, hold dozens of patents with plenty more pending and often license their technology to third companies. They have been around since 1985. They are undoubtedly up to the job, in my opinion. Let´s discuss.
But finally, I would also like to urge everyone to not contact P.O.C. anymore. We have found out as much as they are going to say at the moment. They are under an N.D.A. and receive too many mails already. Also, there is simply no point in contacting them if you are not a member of the press with official credentials. Please don´t contact them anymore! Also, once again thanks to Raphael (quoting this source) for telling me about the story.
EDIT As I realised now, the story was first posted on my good friend Phalanx´s blog in this post, quoting someone, apparently claiming to be a developer, who came up with the link. I can´t vouch for this guy, though. I´m trying to contact him.