The new Nintendo 3DS proved that some exciting things can happen on a small display adding a Sharp-produced 3D screen layer. In 2009, Japan’s KDDI cell phone carrier introduced the Hitachi Wooo, which uses a similar 3D screen technology as the Nintendo 3DS, but made by MasterImage 3-D – a Burbank, CA-based company.
The additional layer costs $10-$15 for the manufacturer, can be added over both LCD and OLED screens, and turned off, if necessary. It doesn’t require the 3D glasses we are accustomed to in movie theaters. However, it reduces screen brightness and resolution, which can be compensated to an extent psychologically with the increase in perceptive detail, since different images are directed to each eye,
according to the company’s CEO. As Tony Soprano said to Jacky Aprile – “Lose the glasses!”.
MasterImage 3-D’s CEO James Bower revealed that nearly all of the major smartphone manufacturers are experimenting with 3D for their future handsets. Bower also said that next year could see 3D on a US cell phone as well.
Having the display to visualize the 3D content is one side of it, but what about shooting 3D video and processing the outcome? It looks like this is also being addressed, as a press release about Texas Instruments’ OMAP4 chipset for smartphones was touting the ability of the system-on-a-chip to process multiple cameras’ images for stereoscopic 3D recording of 720p video on your phone. TI also promised support for additional front camera for touchless gesture recognition, and hinted that these technologies can bring a three-dimensional user interface to smartphones.
Combine those dual-core CPU chipsets with MasterImage’s overlay on a phone screen (both are technologies that already exist), and next year starts to look like a very realistic timeframe for the first 3D smartphone to hit the US markets. Despite the fact that currently it is only a “wow” factor while playing some games (like on the Nintendo), 3D vision is not considered a trick in nature. Stereoscopic and depth of field perceptions are vital – just ask any trapeze player! Many revolutionary features have started as a gimmick, so 3D UIs and 3D-HD video on our smartphones – we’ll take it, just don’t ask us to pay extra!
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