Stereopticon Ii: Wonder Glasses For Biology Classes

Students in biochemistry and molecular and cell biology at Cornell University will gain a new way of studying the properties of complex organic molecules this fall. A classroom there is being outfitted with equipment to allow as many as 56 students to view 3-D computer graphics on a 10-by-12-foot screen.

The color images will be generated on a Silicon Graphics Inc. workstation. Then, a system called CrystalEyes from StereoGraphics Corp. in San Rafael, Calif., will add a 3-D look by making the computer alternately display the two halves of a stereo image, one for the left eye and one for the right. Viewers must wear eyeglasses that are equipped with an electronic shutter in front of each eye. Because the shutters are synchronized with the workstation at a flicker-free rate of 120 images per second, viewers experience a convincing illusion of binocular vision. Since the synchronization is done with wireless infrared signals, students will be free to move about the room.