Smartphones are getting smarter. Now some new models even offer games or television broadcasts in three dimensions — and you don’t need special glasses with them.
Traditional 3-D technology used for movie screens and television superimposes or alternates two views, using filters or shutters in the glasses to select a view for each eye. This creates an illusion of depth. But a new generation of devices, many of them hand-held and now in prototype, dispense with the pesky glasses. Instead, they use optics and other technology built into the display to steer one view directly to the left eye, and the other view to the right.
Glasses-free 3-D effects are easier to produce on a small, portable screen than on a large, stationary one, said Paul Semenza, a senior vice president at the market researcher DisplaySearch in Santa Clara, Calif. That’s because the viewer can easily adjust the angle and position of the display by hand to take best advantage of the 3-D view.
Samsung Electronics introduced its 3-D W960 touch-screen phone in May in South Korea, and customers are already using it to watch TV shows and music videos, said Eunju Hwang, a spokeswoman for the company in Seoul. Other companies have also announced glasses-free mobile 3-D displays.
At a video game industry trade show last month in Los Angeles, Nintendo, for example, demonstrated a 3-D portable game device that requires no special eyewear. Nokia has demonstrated a 3-D cellphone, and Hitachi is selling a 3-D phone in Japan.
The market for glasses-free, or ‘auto-stereoscopic,’ 3-D is small right now but will grow rapidly as the technology is incorporated into laptops, notebooks, digital cameras, camcorders, digital picture frames and game devices.