Beyond iPad, Mobile 3-D emerges

Just as the iPad stirs the imagination (at least in the U.S.) about content on the screen, comes technology that makes content jump off it.

Samsung’s W960 mobile phone, released in South Korea in March, delivers 3-D video content that can be viewed without special glasses and can be manipulated by turning and twisting the device.

Years before there was the iPhone or the iPad, we saw applications and utilities on mobile devices in South Korea and Japan before there was an app for that here. Which is to say reimagined by Apple.

Now get ready for a three-def physics that could alter Apple’s’ gravity. Technology developed by Julien Flack, CTO of Dynamic Digital Depth, could be built into many mobile devices within the next two years. Flack has spent more than decade converting 2-D content into 3-D in real-time, solving the the problem: the need for special glasses that deliver a separate image to each eye. You can climb inside Flack’s multi-dimensional brain at a Technology Review video

The remaining problem: a shortage of content for the three-def experience. For now, the technology best handles animated, computer-generated content. Thus the current sweet spot: games that simulate 3-D spaces. Just as games are driving adoption of 3-D television screens, they are likely to lead to new interfaces and applications — augmented reality. That could get very interesting across a range of content.

Triple def TVs, which hit stores after this year’s Consumers Electronics Show, require glasses. Phones may provide a better experience. 3-D displays work by directing light to deliver different versions of an image directly to each of a viewer’s eyes. The effect works best over a narrow range of viewing angles, so it is not well suited to television or cinema screens — the places where we’ve first experienced 3-D. But phones are generally used by one person at a time and are easily held at the optimum angle. That’s why mobile multimedia devices may bring 3-D into the mainstream

In addition to Dynamic Digital Depth, based in Santa clara, other companies working on the mobile 3-D experience include 3M in St. Paul, Nintendo in Kyoto, Nvidia in Santa Clara, and N4D in Atlanta.

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