Recent NVIDIA graphics driver changes mean that perhaps a Second Life / OpenSim viewer could again be programmed to display in stereoscopic 3D on consumer-level GeForce + 3D Vision hardware.
There was some activity on stereoscopic 3D Second Life viewers in the past. In 2007 there was the University of Michigan patch and Dale’s Viewer, but active shutter glasses support never made it into a mainstream viewer. Second Life uses OpenGL as its graphics programming language and in 2008 both NVIDIA and TriDef unfortunately removed OpenGL stereoscopic support for GeForce and AMD graphics cards. Note, however, that NVIDIA did continue to support OpenGL stereoscopic 3D in their more expensive, professional-level Quadro + 3D Vision solutions. Also, the code was never really removed from their GeForce drivers: NVIDIA specially enabled stereoscopic 3D for a select few stereo OpenGL games like Doom 3 BFG!
This unfortunate state of affairs changed in February 2013 with NVIDIA’s 314.07 GeForce driver. An unannounced change meant that OpenGL stereoscopic 3D started working for full-screen stereo programs on GeForce for at least some computer configurations. For example, it works on mine: Windows 8 64-bit, GeForce GTX 680M, laptop with built-in 3D Vision IR transmitter. Additionally, while it currently may not be possible to make OpenGL stereoscopic 3D work on AMD systems, it should work on at least some Mac and Linux systems. If you want to test whether it works on your Windows PC there’s a simple test program provided in the MTBS3D forum thread.
This is all good but a worry is that because it was unannounced it might be an unintentional change by NVIDIA; apart from perhaps not working on all GeForce systems, NVIDIA might disable OpenGL stereoscopic 3D again in a subsequent driver version. (Happily, it remained enabled in March’s 314.22 GeForce driver.) However, if they do disable it again there is a fall-back solution whereby OpenGL stereoscopic output can be converted to Direct3D for display with NVIDIA 3D Vision.
So perhaps it’s time to revisit adding stereoscopic 3D support for Second Life / OpenSim? If you want a taste of what could be and happen to have a pair of red-green glasses, it’s well worth your while downloading Kirstens Viewer which, while not actively maintained, still works in anaglyph 3D. (Make sure to turn lighting and shadows off.) The screen capture above was taken using Kirstens Viewer.
UPDATE: Enabing quad-buffered OpenGL stereoscopic 3D support on GeForce was an intentional change by NVIDIA. [Reference] 9 Apr 2013
UPDATE: It appears that OpenGL quad buffered support is now available with AMD Radeon HD 6000 or better graphics cards. I don’t know when this was enabled. 20 Jun 2013