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Canadian startup pictures a new way to use 3-D movie tech

The Invisivision glasses are a new way to use existing 3-D optic technology, not to create the illusion of objects leaping off the screen, but rather to add a second layer of information inside a 2-D video.

PipeDream Interactive

A three-man outfit from the buzzing Kitchener-Waterloo startup hub believes it can change the movie business, add more value to all those 3-D theatres and make your 3-D TV at home do more than give you a headache.

Ryan Brooks is the inventor of a new way to use existing 3-D optic technology, not to create the illusion of objects leaping off the screen, but rather to add a second layer of information inside a 2-D video.

"We have had Hollywood people say to us 'we don't know how we missed this,' " says Mr. Brooks.

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The former school teacher, inventor and budding screenwriter came up with the idea while working on concepts for a video game movie (he doesn't want to talk about which game, but if you play video games you know the character). After 3-D printing some prototypes and searching around for patents on the technique, Mr. Brooks believed he had something.

Mr. Brooks is calling the new specs Invisivision and it works something like this: What happens in 3-D movies is that two versions of the film are projected, and those disposable glasses you wear direct one version to your right eye, the other version to your left; this creates that trippy effect that gives 3-D movies their depth. Invisivision is even simpler, it sends one version to both eyes, but the glasses can flip up, so you can suddenly see the second version where all manner of information can be hidden: you could have subtitles, a different camera angle, more or less blood and gore, different scenery, branding, no branding and so on. The glasses don't need a movie theatre, any 3-D-capable monitor can display enriched content that Invisivision specs can flip on and off.

Now, with his brother and a high school chum who has decamped from Bay Street, Mr. Brooks' PipeDream Interactive has a Kickstarter campaign where it seeks to raise $200,000 to shoot a short film to demonstrate the technology to exhibitors, studios and pretty much anyone who might have investments in 3-D technology now. If you pledge $25 or more they will send you a pair of the specs (among other rewards).

There are a few eyebrow-raisers for Invisivision: that name for one, the glasses look pretty dorky, the technology isn't patented yet (and relies on optic film developed by others) and then there is the scarcity of 3-D sets in homes. The PipeDream guys (and that name is also not auspicious) believe the business model for movie theatres will be for you to pay for and keep your flip glasses, instead of just getting them for free and handing them back at the end. Telling consumers something they previously got for free now costs money almost never goes well.

This is all a bit of an adventure for Mr. Brooks, who only formed the company in December (he's also still pursuing that video-game movie). This is one of those simple-yet-magical technologies that makes you go "ooh, ahh" when you get a demonstration, whether they can inspire the hordes of Kickstarter fans or movie-makers is the open question.

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About the Author
Technology reporter

Shane Dingman is The Globe and Mail's technology reporter. He covers BlackBerry, Shopify and rising Canadian tech companies in Waterloo, Ont., Toronto and beyond. More

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