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3D Stereoscopic Vision, Binocular Depth Perception
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This cartoon illustrates a technique that has already been popularized as a way to view Magic Eye stereograms printed on books, calenders, etc. The man in the cartoon (yeah--the guy with two right arms) is putting the stereo image right up against his nose and then--very slowly--moving the image away from his face until the hidden 3D object takes shape and is recognized.

This technique can be adapted to learn to see stereograms on a computer screen. If you are the self-conscious type, you may want to try this in private, though. If you thought putting a book up against your nose looked silly, wait until you try this.

Here goes . . .

  1. Since you can not pick up the computer monitor and move it away from your face, try moving your body away from the computer screen. Get up out of the chair and onto your feet. Prepare to assume a slightly contorted position.

  2. Put your nose right up against the computer screen. The image will become very blurry. Admire those glowing blotches of color. (Let's put any thoughts about the possible ill effects of close-range electromagnetic fields out of our minds for the moment, shall we?) The point is you have just easily defeated your tendency to focus right at the surface of the computer screen. In order to see the 3D image you must look through the computer screen, not at the computer screen.

  3. Ask yourself what your eyes feel like because you need to maintain the same feeling and the same posture of your eyes as you move away from the image. Check yourself again. Your focus is completely relaxed. The image is blurry. You are staring through the monitor, off into space.

  4. Now slowly take a step back from the computer screen while maintaining the same position of your eyes. Allow the image to remain blurry. Relax, breathe, blink.

  5. Continue to walk very slowly backwards, away from the computer screen. The hidden 3D image will gradually come into view.

  6. Continue aiming your eyes beyond the computer screen. Do not look directly at the image or the computer. If you suddenly shift your focus and look right at the screen, you will lose the 3D effect. Try again.

  7. Once you recognize the 3D shape, if you continue to look into the background rather than directly at the shape, the 3D effect will increase. Stereoscopic perception seems to have a saturation effect in the brain, so if you keep looking at the image for a while you will notice that your perception of the depth increases. Cool.

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Magic Eye How to See 3D copyright © 1995; Out-of-Print
by Magic Eye, Inc. and Rachel Cooper, Advocate of Vision Therapy Eye Exercises for Lazy Eye.
All other images and text: copyright © 1996- by Rachel Cooper. All rights reserved.