3D displays? No glasses? Impossible! Or not…

A few months ago the DDMC at Duke took a look at a 3D display from IZON. What was so special about it? You didn’t need to wear glasses to see content in 3D. They were extremely impressed by it. IZON was on their way to the NAB show in Vegas and they were nice enough to stop here on campus to demo their displays.

They brought 2 displays with them to demonstrate how it could be used either for digital signage or with more traditional content. We had quite a few people show up to look at the displays and the general consensus was that the tech was pretty impressive.

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Left: Titanic 3D – Right: Digital Signage


IZON has been doing 3D conversions and content creation for the film industry for quite a few years. In fact they have created their own software to do 3D conversions. What they have done is take that software, and put it on a chip that can be installed in displays. They use a lenticular lens on the front of the display that can be tweaked with the chip to work most effectively at certain distances. (The default is 9 – 12 feet.) IZON buys the 4K panels from a large OEM and assembles the displays themselves in Florida.

As you move around the room, the intensity of the effect changes. (If you ‘re looking at the display while you’re moving, the effect can be a bit disorienting.) The viewing angles are very impressive. As you move from 90° from the display towards the side, the effect gradually diminishes until you get to about a 25° degree angle. Then it just stops. You’re not left with a blurry and unwatchable picture though. It’s now just a 2D image that still looks as good as most displays at that angle.

Joey 3D glasses

It’s coming right at me!

The process couldn’t be easier. Any 3D content (DVD, Blu-Ray, 3D-Camcorder, etc) that you feed into the display is processed in real time and the effect is impressive. If you give it normal 2D content, you just get 2D content as you would expect.

JAWS 19 coming soon!!!

I never felt as if I was going to be eaten.

This is the holy grail of 3D acceptance really. Insert content, press play, enjoy. No glasses. No lighting restrictions. No limited seating positions. Just high quality 3D content.

A few observations about each application:

Digital Signage
  • The content was extremely attention grabbing and some items appeared to come off the screen
  • The quality of the effect is entirely dependant on the quality of the content.
  • The displays currently only do 3D in landscape orientation
  • Gave me a headache after looking at it for 2 hours
Consumer Content
  • Titanic looked great for a movie that wasn’t filmed in 3D
  • Wasn’t distracting or headache inducing
  • I really wanted to see Avatar after this
  • This was the least impressive but it’s consumer grade hardware doing real time processing. Better to err on the side of caution and restraint
  • Very dependant upon the device and the environment (distance to objects, lighting, focal length)

We had one person from Architecture that really wanted to view some of their 3D renderings on the display. We tried on both a MacBook Pro and a Lenovo laptop to get this working but were unable to figure it out. Basically you have to get the computer to output content in side by side mode and we couldn’t figure that out on either system. Not all video cards and drivers are capable of doing this and laptops are probably the least likely to be able to do so. I’m sure a nice desktop video card could do this easily.


It wasn’t hard to think of a few ways that these displays could be used on campus.

  • Viewing 3D renderings and walkthroughs of buildings and rooms
  • 3D video production and editing
  • Digital signage
  • Video game design
  • Creating and viewing models, samples and scans of scientific or artistic objects (pottery, bones, fossils, etc.)
  • Displaying molecules
  • New data visualization techniques

What’s next?

The two biggest things standing in the way of this technology aren’t new. Content and price.

Content: Where do you get 3D content? Sure you can get a lot of movies in 3D but once you expand beyond that, your options shrink. ESPN-3D is shut down for the time being. This would be amazing for digital signage but you’d have to have someone make the content for you. I’m sure there’s no shortage of places that do this, including IZON themselves, but how much will it cost you to have it produced? The inability to use it in portrait mode is also limiting. They’re working on this but they have a long list of other things to work on as well.

Price: The list price on a 50″ unit is over double what you would pay for 4K 3D TV that requires glasses. Later this year they will be shipping a 65″. Considering the capabilities of these units (3D and 4K capable) the prices aren’t horrendous.  10 years ago a 50″ plasma would have cost you about the same. I’m sure as production increases, competitors emerge, and licensing deals are struck, prices will drop quickly.

This isn’t for everyone. Certainly not in academia. But if you want to have a group discussion and display content in 3D, right now you really don’t have any good options. Unless you’re happy with everyone wearing glasses or an Oculus Rift. With one of these displays, it’s very doable. I can definitely see one of these in an architect or engineer’s office or conference room.

I have to say that the most drool worthy thing I saw was their pre-production 3D tablet. (They were carrying it in a Pelican hard shell case and bubble wrap.) It’s a 10″ Android unit and the effect was amazing. They played a movie clip with some of the head’s up display from Ironman and… WHOA!!! It is truly Tony Stark’s tablet. Jaw droppingly awesome.

Many thanks to IZON for making the trip and showing us what’s just beyond the horizon!

Recording with the One Button Studio

The One Button Studio opened in the Hesburgh Library this month. Based on the model developed by Penn State, this recording studio allows video content to be recorded and saved to a flash drive with the push of a button. As a student with no video recording experience, I had to ask: is it really that simple? I headed to the Hesburgh Library to put the One Button Studio to the test.


The Studio: The room setup is streamlined with the screen and projector at one end of the room, and the cart which contains the recording equipment and the computer at the other end. When you plug the the flash drive into the USB hub, the lights turn on and you see a preview of what the camera will record. I was prompted to push the “One Button” to begin recording. Once the button is pushed, recording begins.

kiosksetup Kiosk computer and camera setup in the One Button Studio

You can incorporate presentations into your video recording by using the computer in the room, or by connecting your laptop with the cables  provided. Content is projected onto a gray screen. High contrast presentations and large, readable text will work best. You can also use the system in green screen mode. This lets you record content and then use iMovie to replace the background.

Gray screen  The gray screen in Notre Dame’s One Button Studio

When you’re done recording, simply push the button again and the file is saved to your USB drive. When it’s done copying, you are prompted to either remove the drive or press the button again to start another recording. When the USB drive is removed, the lights and camera turn off automatically. The file is saved in an MP4 format and can be imported into iMovie or Adobe Premiere for further editing.


The Verdict: The One Button Studio makes recording video content easier than I had imagined. As a recording novice, I was impressed with the easy, streamlined process and the quality of the recording. Here are a few tips I picked up during my trip to the One Button Studio:


  • The computer in the room can be used to move your recording to Cloud storage or to display notes.
  • There is a switch that allows the user to change from the gray screen backdrop or to select a blue or green screen effect.
  • Come prepared! Since time is limited, bring your notes and know what you’re going to say ahead of time.
  • USB drives, whiteboards, and projector remotes can be borrowed from the Hesburgh Library circulation desk.
  • If you do run into any issues, library staff will be available to help by phone or at the circulation desk.


Chris Clark created this video for his class using the One Button Studio:

Ready to start recording? For additional instruction regarding the studio, click here. You can reserve the One Button Studio in 30 minute blocks for up to two hours per day here.

Remind App: An Easy Way to Connect


Remind is an app that helps teachers to connect with their students, sharing quick reminders about course related information. With the app, classes can connect:

Easily. Teachers sign up for the app and create a class through it. Students then receive a class code which they use to participate in course messaging.

Safely. Phone numbers are kept confidential in the class messages to ensure privacy. Teachers can only message the class collectively, not individually. They also serve as administrators and can access the message history.

Efficiently. Messages can include scheduling, voice clips, and image or document attachments. The app allows you to see who has viewed attachment content.

At No Charge. Teachers, students, and parents can use the app for free.

This Remind app is an easy way for teachers and students to stay connected about course updates.


Livescribe Spartpen

The Livescribe smartpen records what the user hears and writes. It functions as a normal pen with additional digital capabilities. Written notes are easily transferred onto the computer, and audio lecture can be played back word for word. Livescribe creates a “pencast” playback, allowing the user to hear, see, and experience notes as they were originally captured.


For students, this unique combination of visual notes and audio recording can help them retain and understand course material. Rather than scrambling to write down every word, students can focus on being engaged with class material and present during lecture. The Livescribe pen also has potential for instructors, allowing them to create pencasts as they draw and narrate difficult diagrams or demonstrations to be shared with the class.


To learn more about tools available to benefit the Notre Dame academic community, visit our page What Technology is Available to Me?

One Button Studio Proof-of-Concept

We’re happy to report good progress on our One Button Studio project.  One Button Studio is project that originated at Penn State, and we’re preparing to install a prototype studio here at Notre Dame, in cooperation with the Hesburgh Libraries.

One Button Studios are intended to be a self-service video recording studio where faculty and students can create content quickly.  Faculty can create short videos for their courses, and students can practice presentations, just to mention a couple common examples.

Imagine a student walks into the studio, inserts a flash drive into the OBS computer, and the software begins a countdown on the computer screen.  The student walks to the designated mark in front of the camera and begins presenting when the countdown reaches zero.  When the student is done, he or she walks over to the computer, presses a big button, and waits a few seconds for the video to be transferred to the flash drive.  At that point the student takes the flash drive and leaves the studio.  Easy.

Below are a few pictures from the other day when we moved the OBS equipment into DeBartolo Hall B011 and created a working proof-of-concept.  Kudos to Charles Barbour for driving this project forward.

camera_light comp_and_camera screen

ND Campus Mobile App YouTube Video

The OIT’s Academic Media Services group is proud to announce that our very own Ray Herrly’s commercial for the ND Mobile app was added to the ND YouTube channel.

This is another example of the high quality work produced by the excellent & talented students we have working for Academic Digital Media/Academic Technologies!

It’s amazing how fast Ray got to class (and in/out of S Dining)!


Student Innovation Lab in LaFortune

Those of you who have ventured into the basement of LaFortune over the past several weeks have probably noticed the construction project for the new First Source Bank branch there. You may also have noticed the use of a small student lounge area as space for material storage and carpentry work. Come August with Back-to-School, that lounge area will revert to a different function, serving as the home base for the student Innovation Lab. The Innovation Lab is a student collaborative project for the development of mobile applications. The student group has participated in the “hack-a-thon” done last year in conjunction with the OIT Mobile Summit, and is leading the charge for a September “hack-a-thon” this year. While the lab space is very much under construction today, by the time the students return it will be back in shape, and contains: • Four networked Mac computers for development • A wireless access point to ensure that all participants in the development session have connectivity We’ll be adding: • A “lightboard” style white board – the first project the student team will be undertaking when they return. • Investigating if Apple TV or other networking can be used to allow the flat screen TV in the lounge to serve as a shared demonstration monitor The student’s plan is to be able to introduce our new freshmen, and returning upperclassmen, to the opportunity of participating in both a fall “hack-a-thon” and the regular development sessions in the innovation lab. As the student group moves ahead with developing applications, there may be a call for OIT subject matter experts to give them short (15-minute) overviews of their area of expertise and to field questions from the group. If working directly with a group of motivated and very bright students appeals to you, please let me know and we’ll look for opportunities!

How Technology Molds Our Learning Ability

by Jeffrey J. Hanrahan, Academic Technologies

Around 1875 the telephone became a commercial product allowing people to communicate using audio.  This was used for personal and business use.  It allowed people to stay in contact with each other over short and long distances as person-to-person.  It was not much of a learning tool.

In 1920, comercial Radio broadcasting, evolved.  This was one-way broadcasting of audio from one-source to many listeners.  Although it provided personal entertainment, the underlying principle was for marketing of business products.  It also introduced some side effects.  It made you use your mind to create detailed images of what was transacting on the radio.  It provided steady “noise” in the background and generated the perceived sense that you were in a group with others around you.  You could go about doing things while you listened to the radio.  Portable radios allowed people to listen to broadcasts and music while they were outside or traveling.  People would also turn on a late night talk program to lull themselves to sleep at night as the radio tubes glowed in the dark.  There was little or no educational value.

Shortly afterwards in 1928 came commercial television.  This was one-way broadcasting of video from one-source to many viewers.  It also had side effects.  You didn’t have to use you mind to imagine events that were transpiring.  With the addition of “Laff Box” systems (canned-laugher) you are told when things are supposedly funny.  It is provided to you in a video.  It didn’t require you to think, you just needed to watch.  It made the population less intelligent and molded their attention span.  It also tied you to the television screen and people were’t able to go about doing other things for the fear of “missing something”.  Television programs were designed to tell stories for 30 or 60 minutes and it seems that these shows set our attention span to the time it takes for a scene to change, around 3 minutes.  Music videos became annoying as the camera shots would change every few seconds like clockwork.  So much visual stimulation was added that you would have to say to yourself “Is there anything else on TV?”.  There would be news programs 30 minutes long, broadcasted 3 times and then on some other channel you may see a “60 Seconds Around the World” film clip that contains more information than the 30 minute newscast.  The news programs often read E-Mails and show YouTube videos for their content.  If they continue to do that, why do we even need news programs anymore?

There were people who didn’t like the mindless television shows being produced so television also became a limited tool for teaching with the creation of the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) channel.  Television also became a baby sitter for children, and still allowed people to be lulled to sleep at night.  It became a drug that our nation was addicted to.

By 1973, mobile phones evolved.  Still a one-way broadcasting of audio in a person-to-person environment.  The technology was still young and used primarily for business use.

In 1980 the Internet came into existence.  It provided a central perceived place where “things” can reside and be accessed globally at any time of the day or night, including holidays.  It is one of the few things that was initially designed for educational use.  As marketing and business usage was added, the Internet grew in size and offerings as well as the devices that were able to access it.

Then in 2007, the iPhone came into existence and changed nearly everything.  A telephone with audio, video and E-Mail came into existence that can access the Internet.  There is an app (software application) for just about anything.  You don’t have to bother yourself with building anything, you don’t even need to know how to write cursively anymore.  You don’t even need to purchase various musical instruments, because there is an app for them.  There are even educational apps to help you learn.

The mobile phone evolved, iPads and Tablets came into existence and provided a means to view material from the Internet and video broadcasting services.  These became the Electronic Swiss Army Knife.  They are used as an electronic pacifier for children.  It makes television portable.  With the proper application, these devices can serve as the remote control for your television.  Instead of reading a book, there are videos on how to fix and do things.  This also brought on the need of where to save digital things that you want to keep.  The “Cloud” came into existence as the solution. The new electronic devices eliminate the need for physical social interaction.  It also eliminated the need for children to develop mechanical skills.  Why should they physically build a go-cart when there is an app that probably does it for them digitally?  People can stay at home and have the luxury of listening to network radio broadcasts, play streaming television, watch movies, play videos, listen to music, do electronic E-Mail, electronically shop in stores and handle banking transactions.  Just point and click.

Technology has molded us over time to prefer and accept a number of things; person-to-person contact, information presented in a short and concise timeframe, information that is to the point, video preferred over text, one place for all content, off-device information storage, immediate information access, tap and swipe rather than typing, greater availibility of consumable content, catering to short attention spans (you can fast forward the content).

Technology has also exposed us to some things that are not so good; everything on the Internet may not be true, advertisers are relentless to sell you things, mental activity is preferred over physical activity and that just one of “Who, What, Where, When and Why” is acceptable in a story.

Early technology has provided the parts for the evolution of where we are today and how we expect things to operate.  It has provided us with the Internet which is technology designed for education and sharing information despite becoming more of a marketing tool.  It has given us Cloud services, Learning Management Systems at colleges, On-Line Courses and specialized instructional courses.