3D Mobile: Popping out a screen near you
In keeping with my recent posts themes I find myself writing yet again about 3D technology, I just can’t help it! This time it’s the turn of mobile phones. The beginning of April (thankfully after Aprils fools day!) saw the unveiling by Sharp of their new 3D LCD screen for mobiles, that doesn’t require special 3D glasses to view it. That’s right, you read correctly; the technology boffins at Sharp have come up with a way to fragment the light that comes from the screen so that your left and right eyes see slightly different images, resulting in the 3D effect you get from wearing red and blue glasses. Sharp initially launched 3D screens way back in 2002; but their lower brightness, poor resolution and large space needed to accommodate the technology meant it was a bit of a flop. This time however, the electronics giant appears to have timed it better. The current popularity of 3D films such as Avatar and Alice in Wonderland, followed by the launch of Sky’s 3D channel, promoted through the screening of Premier league football matches, and finally multiple brands launching specialised 3D TV’s last month, means that a 3D mobile offering slots right into the mix.
How it works
The technology, unveiled on a small 3.4 inch on the diagonal screen, is yet to be incorporated into a mobile phone or other device, although there are rumours it could be launched in Japan as early as September. The screen is an LCD touch screen with functionality to switch between 2D and 3D at the slide of a button. To create the 3D image the screen incorporates a “switch panel” which creates a series of “parallax barriers” to block light from the screen travelling in certain directions; this means the image form the LCD seen by each eye is slightly different, creating a 3D effect. All very technical and explained in much better detail on the Sharp website [http://sharp-world.com/products/device/about/lcd/3d/index.html], but the result is a 3D screen with one flaw; it can only be viewed from 30cm away and straight on. This is due to the ‘light blocking’ effect that causes the 3D image; if viewed from an angle, or at differing distances than the eyes don’t receive the right images, hence the reason this technology hasn’t been used for TV’s…. yet.
What’s in Store for the future?
Claims from within the electronics industry indicate that small 3D ready displays will be starting to penetrate the market before the end of the year, and although Sharp are keeping their cards close to their chest rumours are circulating that the Nintendo 3DS console, launching later this year, may include the technology. But don’t expect it to end there; a plethora of gadgets and gizmos would benefit from this new technology including cameras, virtual reality gear, arcade games, smartphones and eventually TV’s. But perhaps one of the most prevalent uses would be the good old web application. Talk surrounding retailer’s product presentation on site and mobile applications to communicate these products on the move is still rife. If 3D screens were to be integrated into web enabled mobiles then the potential for retailers to communicate and sell to consumers on the move would dramatically increase. We’re only just seeing the beginnings of virtual fitting rooms, and thinking about the possibility of using augmented reality to see clothes on ourselves over the web. But imagine being able to get true 360 degree pictures of clothes, furniture and other luxury items literally jumping out of the screen at you. Customers would benefit from a more enhanced view of items before purchase, and retailers would benefit from higher sales, and fewer returns as consumers are more informed about products.Tweet