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The Advent of the 3D Phone

Updated on September 22, 2011
General symbol of cell-phone
General symbol of cell-phone

Maybe you had been wondering, as I had, what would be the next exciting addition to the cell phone's box of tricks.

Well it's here..3D cell phones....

When I announced this to my son he smartly replied, "aren't all cell-phones" 3D ? As you can see sarcasm runs in the family!

No, apparently it's more than that, the picture you see on your screen is actually in three dimensions, and no throw away blue and red paper glasses required.

I'll attempt to expalin how these new innovations came to be and how they work without blowing a fuse in my cranium in the process.

Stereoscope viewer
Stereoscope viewer

Three Dimensional Viewing in the Olden Days

The Ancient Greek Mathematician Euclid discovered the principles of binocular vision.

The first popular 3D viewers were called stereoscopes, or stereopticons, and were very popular in the later 1800s ad early 1900s. They were made of wood and came in many designs.

The stereo card placed into the machine composed of 2 photographs of he same view, which were taken from two slightly different angles that corresponded to the distance between your eyes.

This gives the illusion of depth when viewed through the eyepieces at a precise distance from the pictures.

About 30 Years Ago came Along this Plastic Pal?

The View Master..a binocular version of the three 3 viewer, allowed yo to view the same picture from two slightly different angles and feel like you were really there!!

The slides came in packs, on circular "reels" so that you could show you favourite stories.."almost" like a 3D movie...whooooohoooo!!

These things are still popular for the kids of today, and make great stocking fillers!

The Next Step in Technology

Obviously the next step would be to transfer this exciting technology to our new smart phones....looking at the previous verions it almost seems simple...

A simple version of the 3D phone

This version of a three D phone is a bit of a cheat really, based a little around the vistascreen

It involves three different flat complementary images of different sizes

A special viewer is used to split the images and reflect them into your eyes as you look into the eyepieces.'s not strictly 3D more like layers of 2D.

Still impressive to view though.

The techie terms for the new superphones

Screens that can be viewed without 3D glasses use what's called autostereoscopic display technology.

Apparently there are two aspects of the technology that allow three dimensional images to be viewed glasses free:

  1. lenticular display
  2. parallax barrier

Lenticular display

This type of display works best at a distance with larger display.

Remember in the 70's when we started getting those stickers in a breakfast cereal that when tilted and moved around seemed to display movement? That's the general concept.

By this method the eye can see two LCD screen images at once,which are offset from each other very slightly..basically in the same way each of your eyes view put together a scene in reality.

The display depends on a display film being coated with "lenticular" film. On the base of this film are tiny "lenticles" which are individual lenses. The screen displays two versions of the same image, but only one image is seen by each eye, resulting in the illusion of depth.

Parallax barrier

The parallax barrier is better for up-close viewing on cell-phone screens that are smaller (and is even used on new style Nintendo game machines).

A screen with a switch-able parallax barrier has a series of tiny precision slits that split the image into left and right versions.

This type of screen can also switch between a 3D and 2D display by passing current through the liquid crystal sandwich to make it transparent.

So what happens in your brain?

By each method you left eye and your right eye see slightly different versions of the same scene.

The brain, being the amazing super processor that it is, assembles the information so that it makes sense and the result is and image in three dimensions that appear to project right out of the the screen at you.

Have Fun!!!

No doubt this is the next new thing that the kids will bu putting on their Christmas list.

I know we don't really need more toys but it seems our inquisitve and adaptive minds have once again thought of a new version of old entertainment.



An instruction manual to help you unravel the workings of one of the new 3D phones



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    • catsimmons profile image

      Catherine Simmons 6 years ago from Mission BC Canada

      A lot of people will buy it Flora...I don't need one either but if I won the lottery I'd have at least 2 :-) Just think, 3D photos!!

    • FloraBreenRobison profile image

      FloraBreenRobison 6 years ago

      We have a family stereoscope viewer an d lots of pictures to it. I didn't know that is what it was called. I've never owned a View Finder, although I have looked through one that someone else owned. They were fascinating. However, you don't NEED a 3D cell phone. I wonder how many people will actually buy this