Whether you’re playing Halo 3, Call of Duty 4 or Gran Turismo 4, playing games in split-screen mode has its pluses and minuses. The pluses are anchored by the sheer rush you get from playing co-op or versus in person with friends, but that rush is often overshadowed by the biggest minus of split-screen play: having the play area be a small quadrant or, at best, half the screen. Widescreen HDTVs minimize the smallness issue to some degree given their larger size, but there’s still nothing like playing with a full 1080p HDTV screen all to yourself. At CES, DLP Products from Texas Instruments has unveiled a new technology called “DualView” that it hopes will solve gamers’ dilemma once and for all.
DualView enables two separate image sources to be displayed at the same time on a DLP HDTV screen. DualView isn’t a weird lenticular display trick, nor does it involve a crazy HDTV signal switch. Instead, DualView involves connecting a DLP HDTV to a compatible source and then having each gamer wear DualView glasses. In many respects you can think of it as a 3D movie, but each viewer sees a different image. And yes, that means you can no longer peek over at your “split-screen” partner’s viewpoint to cheat your way to victory.
If this sounds a bit wacky and unattainable, you’re only half right. DLP DualView is surely a unique concept, and one that many consumers may never experience, let alone take advantage of. Gamers, on the other hand, will likely eat this technology up like candy, presuming they have the money for a capable DLP HDTV. But the other half of that statement, the “unattainable” part, couldn’t be farther from the truth. Select Samsung and Mitsubishi DLP HDTVs are already shipping with 3-D ready and DualView capabilities.
All 3-D ready DLP HDTVs are capable of DualView, which means they can simultaneously display content from two sources, be they Blu-ray or HD-DVD movies, TV programs or videogames. Gamers are probably going to be the biggest market for the technology, which is why DLP is working with various game developers to support this mode in future releases through driver updates or console patches (hello, Xbox Live and PlayStation Network). In fact, id Software has already tested the DLP DualView technology and may be considering patches for select games and/or supporting the technology in future releases. Currently, any two-player game developed for split screen multiplayer can be played in DualView with the use of two consoles or two PCs. Yes, that means Halo 3, Gran Turismo 4, Gears of War, Resistance: Fall of Man, Call of Duty 4, Forza Motorsport 2…if it’s coded for split-screen play, it’ll work with DualView as long as you have two systems playing it.
The DualView display is achieved by a combination of DLP chipset advancements and new eyewear. The ghost-free picture quality of DualView is achieved by coordinating the DLP chip’s eight-microsecond switching speed with high-contrast shutter glass operation. The DLP prototype eye-wear controller synchronizes the glasses’ shutters by decoding a proprietary signal embedded in the DLP image stream itself. Because each gamer wears a different set of glasses, each gamer’s view is independent from the other, thereby providing each gamer with a full-screen gameplay experience and essentially eliminating the cheating that goes down when playing most split-screen games.
“Gaming is the immediate application for our latest innovation, but there is little to prevent DLP Products from becoming the ultimate living room HDTV that can eliminate channel wars by displaying ESPN Sports Center and Oprah at the same time,” said Adam Kunzman, business manager, DLP HDTV Products, Texas Instruments.
We have to agree: the potential for DualView to solve household debates like “Monday Night Football or Dancing with the Stars?” is amazing, and married men (and women) should be excited at the possibilities. For now, though, gamers will likely benefit the most from this technology. And although special glasses are required to experience it, we’re pretty sure the payoff of a full-screen experience in a split-screen game is well worth it.
— Jonas Allen