When I heard that sports eyewear maker Oakley was going to start making 3D glasses, I thought to myself “That’s nice–I’ll bet they’re sticking generic 3D lenses in a set of stylish frames.” Wrong! The company’s new 3D Gascans are mostly about the quality of the optics. The company came up with its own technology for making high-quality 3D, curved lenses–the cheapo glasses you use at movies have really flat lenses. And in a demo Oakley showed to me, its lenses were capable of showing far crisper images than others.
Oakley’s lenses are for passive 3D system, including most movie-theater 3D. Most of the first wave of 3D HDTVs, as well as many 3D PC display and laptops, use active 3D–the kind with battery-powered glasses that flutter LCDs in each lens on and off. Oakley’s glasses won’t work with these devices. But when I spoke about the 3D Gascans with Oakley CEO Colin Baden, he told me that he thinks passive-3D–which involves a fancier TV but simpler glasses such as the Gascans–will dominate over the long run.