Engineering Inside:

2016 Issue 4

Explore VR with Anaglyph 3D Technology

November 2016

3d glassesby Robin Hegg

With advances in computer graphic technology and the development of quality, affordable head-mounted displays (HMDs), Virtual Reality (VR) headsets (like the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Samsung VR Gear, Microsoft HoloLens, and Playstation VR) have become a modern reality. Virtual reality uses software to create realistic environments using images, sounds and other sensations in a way that allows the user to interact with the environment. VR headsets use stereo images to create the illusion of three dimensions. This means the headsets are projecting two different images, one to each eye. Just like our eyes view each real-life object from slightly different angles, stereo images allow otherwise flat images to be viewed differently by each eye. Our brains put these two images together creating the illusion of three dimensions.

Anaglyph technology, like that used in 3D movies, uses stereo images that are encoded using different colors. 3D glasses with different colored lenses filter the images, allowing each eye to see a different image.

In this activity, you will make your own 3D glasses and create a 3D image using anaglyph technology.


Cardstock or cardboard


Acetate/cellophane in blue and red

Or, clear acetate/cellophane

Permanent markers in blue and red


White paper

Black pen

Three clear transparency sheets


1. Create your own 3D glasses (or skip this step if you already have some). Draw the shape of a pair of glasses on the cardstock or cardboard. Use your scissors to cut out the shape and cut out two holes for your eyes.

2. Cut out circles of the acetate to make lenses to cover the holes in your glasses. You will need one red lens and one blue lens. If you have clear acetate, use the permanent markers to color the circles of clear acetate.

3. Use the tape or glue to attach the two circles of the colored acetate to your glasses. Attach the red acetate to the lens that will cover your left eye and the blue acetate to the lens that will cover your right eye.

4. Decide on a simple image that you’d like to to convert into three dimensions. Draw the image in black on the white piece of paper.

5. Next, you’ll be creating the stereo images in two different colors. Place one of the transparency sheets over the white paper and trace over your drawing with the red permanent marker. Repeat this step with a new transparency sheet and trace the image with the blue marker.

6. Place the two transparency sheets on top of one another so the images overlap exactly. Look at the image with your 3D glasses.

7. Slowly move the images apart and watch for when the image “pops” into 3D. When the image appears to become 3D, stop and measure the distance between the two images. Try moving the images apart in both directions and see what happens.


1. How far did you have to move the images apart before the 3D effect took place? What do you think is the significance of this distance? What might it correspond to?

2. Did moving the images apart in the other direction change the effect? Why do you think that is?

3. If you turn your glasses around so the colors are on the opposite eyes, do they still work the same? Why do you think that is?

4. How do you think anaglyph technology relates to computer-generated virtual reality environments? How does what you learned about 3D glasses relate to VR headsets?

Leave a comment


Explore Wearables with Hands-On Kits and Camps

Want to try making your own wearable device? There are kits that can help you build or program your own wearable. Or, if you want a more immersive experience, check out a tech camp or workshop to give wearable design a try.

Read more


Sharing and Securing Wearable Tech

The IEEE and its members have been at the forefront of wearable technology, working to share advancements and research, highlight security concerns, and develop standards for wearable development, communication, and security.

Read more

Find a University

Search for accredited engineering degree programs throughout the world. Launch