3D Vision Blog

A normal user's look into the world of 3D Stereo Technologies

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What Has Happened to The 3D Smartphones and 3D Tablets

October 4th, 2013 · 10 Comments · Other S3D Tech


The mobile devices markets are booming as more and more people are switching to smartphones and start using tablets in their everyday life, but what has happened with 3D smartphones and 3D tablets? If the mobile devices market is growing a lot constantly and quite fast why we are not also seeing new mobile devices with stereoscopic 3D capabilities. A good question indeed, it is not that some companies haven’t tried introducing 3D-capable mobile devices, it was probably a bit early for them in terms of technological capabilities, but that does not mean we should not be getting new products available as the technology advances. So why it is not happening when we are seeing announcements of newer and faster mobile processors and mobile graphics with more and more cores, higher resolution displays and better cameras all the time?

In 2011 LG introduced their first 3D-capable smartphone LG Optimus 3D P920 (also known as LG Thrill 4G in some markets) and HTC did a similar thing with their HTC EVO 3D smartphone with both devices featuring autostereoscopic 3D displays (glasses-free), dual cameras for 3D photo and video capture and 3D output over HDMI to an external 3D-capable display. LG even introduced at a bit later time a software to render normal non-stereo 3D Android-based games into stereoscopic 3D ones (apparently powered by DDD’s TriDef 3D software for mobile devices). The next year LG announced another 3D-capable smartphone called c P720 as a successor for the Optimus 3D device, though it was not that much improved over the older model and after that they stopped with 3D support. These three smartphones are pretty much the only globally available mobile devices of this type with stereoscopic 3D capabilities, though there are some other 3D-capable smartphones being released only in certain countries such as Japan, South Korea, China or India.

On the 3D tablet market there is pretty much only one name – Gadmei, a Chinese company that became very popular thanks to their affordable 3D tablet with an autostereoscopic 3D display in 2011 and 2012. Being one of the first and offering affordable device it has quickly become widespread, and now there are even a few very similar models available with 3D capabilities from Gadmei. Not to mention that the company has also made OEM versions with different brand names. The problem with these devices is that their glasses-free 3D displays are not that good offering limited number of viewing points and the resolution of the displays isn’t that high especially for 3D use. Furthermore no 3D cameras and ability to play games in stereoscopic 3D mode, so they were mostly good for previewing 3D photos or watching 3D movies. This year the NEO3D tablet became a reality after a successful crowdfunding campaign, though this is essentially rebranded Gadmei 3D tablet that comes with a few extras intended for the American market even though they ship it worldwide. And while the NEO3D tablet is more appealing for the North American customers due to the local warranty and support along with some extras such as TriDef 3D mobile application for transforming Android games in stereo 3D mode the overall 3D experience is pretty much the same. In 2011 LG also tried to go on the 3D tablet market, but with a half finished product and by half finished I mean a device that had for example a dual cameras for 3D capture, but was not equipped with an autostereoscopic 3D-capable display and instead supported anaglyph 3D mode so you had to use red-cyan 3D glasses. And the worst thing you could do with a 3D capable smartphone or tablet is to want the user to use 3D glasses in order to be able take advantage of the 3D capabilities of his device. Another interesting thing in terms of 3D support on tablets is what Nvidia did with the release of their Tegra 3 chipset – porting their 3D Vision technology to tablets powered by Tegra 3 and thus alowing some games to be rendered in stereoscopic 3D mode. The catch here was that there was no tablets with Tegra 3 released with an autostereoscopic 3D display, but you could connect the tablet to a 3D-capable 3D HDTV or a 3D monitor with HDMI 1.4 3D support and play the game on the larger display in 3D. Unfortunately not all Tagra 3 powered tablets supported that feature and other devices such the Ouya game console or the Wikipad gaming tablet (powered by Tegra 3) did not come with 3D support as well. And with the announcement of the newer Tegra 4 that mostly improves the graphical performance over the previous generation Nvidia hasn’t even talked about stereo 3D support and the first devices such as the Project SHIELD or the first Tegra 4-powered tablets are apparently not going to even support external stereo 3D output. And in the last year or so not only the stereo 3D supporting games for Android ad Tegra did not increase, but actually they have decreased to 14 from 16 according to Nvidia’s Tegra Zone website.

So what do we need to have a successful 3D-capable tablet or a smartphone? First a good autostereoscopic 3D display that will allow the user not to loose the 3D effect while moving the tablet like for example when playing a game that uses motion of the device to be controlled. Of course the glasses-free 3D display has to come with higher resolution and pixel density in order for the image in 3D to look good enough even with the reduced resolution in stereo 3D mode. Furthermore the 3D display should be useable in stereo 3D mode inn both portrait and landscape mode and not be limited to just landscape orientation because of the parallax barrier used to achieve the 3D effect. Well, you can say that we have pretty much covered all of these already which reminds me for example of MasterImage 3D’s Cell-Matrix Parallax Barrier technology that looked great when it was announced and though already quite some time has passed it still is nowhere to be found. Or at least almost nowhere to be found with just one 3D-capable smartphone using it that got released only on the market in India earlier this year – the Micromax Canvas 3D A115 smartphone with 5.0-inch display with just 480×800 resolution and that is far from great for stereoscopic 3D use if you ask me.

Looking around for new and interesting mobile devices that are supposed to be available this year on the market one device caught my attention – the Hampoo 3D tablet that is supposed to be on the market by the end of this year. Hampoo is another Chinese manufacturer that is making a 10.1-inch tablet with 1920×1200 resolution autostereoscopic 3D display and more up to date specifications compared to the hardware you can find in the Gadmei 3D tablets. Apparently the company is already shipping volume orders of their Hampoo 3D tablet, but I’m still unable to find the device anywhere available for sale to end users. In the end the things on the mobile 3D-capable devices market seem even worse that what is currently happening on the PC market in terms of solutions for stereoscopic 3D including, but not limited to gaming. And the 3D content available for mobile 3D-capable devices is even more problematic than that available for 3D-capable computers, and that is just another problem ahead of the 3D-capable smartphones and 3D tablets. Unlike with computers, where you can do with a 3D display that requires the viewer to wear glasses in order to be able to see the 3D effect, with mobile devices that is not an option so an autostereoscopic 3D display ad a good one at that is a must have feature. And while the glasses-free 3D displays need some improvement and thus the technology sill needs to catch up, we are also seeing a lot of alternatives in the form of various adapters that will turn your non-3D smartphone into a 3D-capable device. Most recent and interesting of which are the EyeFly 3D and the vrAse, both of which are looking very promising and you might want to keep an eye on and try them if able to and have a compatible device. Have in mind that vrAse is still not released and is still an ongoing project on Kickstarter even though their goal for funding has been reached already, you can still support the project and get a unit earlier.

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vrAse: The Smartphone Virtual Reality Case Kickstarter Project

September 5th, 2013 · 3 Comments · 3D / AR / VR / HMD

There is a new interesting project on Kickstarter called vrAse that reminds me a lot to Oculus Rift, however the goal of the project here is to provide you with an easy way to turn your existing smartphone into a stereoscopic 3D-capable VR and AR device. You can think of the vrAse as everything that the Oculus Rift provides besides the display and the display along with the extra features comes with your smartphone when you insert it in the vrAse. The idea is to provide an easy and affordable solution that can provide good results just by adding your smartphone in the mix and you are not limited to just a single model smartphone, meaning easy upgradeability at a later time by just changing the phone – for example to get higher resolution, faster processing for games, or better camera for AR. Sounds and looks very promising and the project is already getting quite a lot of attention and backers on Kickstarter, so you might want to check it out.


The makers of the vrAse are saying their device is good for use with different stereoscopic 3D content – the stereo 3D support is a key feature as the device uses very similar design like the Rift with lenses and Side by Side output on the display of the smartphone in order to achieve the 3D effect. This means not only for stereo 3D gaming, but for 3D videos as well as Augmented Reality (AR) applications and even for video capture of what you see. The major problem here is the general lack of content, just as is with most stereoscopic 3D solutions targeted at end users and it seems that the goal of the project is the hardware and not as much the content and software (unlike in the case with Oculus Rift). It is important to not only provide good hardware, but also help with the content for it and we already have some similar hardware solutions for turning your smartphone into a 3D-capable viewer available on the market that did not succeed precisely because the lack of content for them.


You can always say that there is a lot of stereoscopic 3D content available on YouTube that you can watch directly on your smartphone in Side by Side format and while this is true in general, the problem here is that there is another issue here. The thing that almost everyone conveniently forgets to tell you is that when viewing a 3D video on YouTube in Side by Side format it is not being displayed in the correct aspect ratio – instead of the full resolution per eye you get it with half horizontal resolution. And if you are converting stereoscopic 3D video in Side by Side format for watching it on your smartphone in the correct aspect ratio you will face another problem – lower resolution and black bars on top and bottom of the screen as most content is in wide aspect ratio and this does not work great on devices like the Oculus Rift and as the vrAse. The good thing is that you don’t need to convert video to a format suitable for your phone, but may instead just play it on your PC and stream it to the smartphone with the correct aspect ratio, though that may not be an easy thing to do for some people.

As for the games, there are still almost no games designed to be played in stereoscopic 3D mode with Side by Side output mode and though you may be able to stream games rendered in Side by Side 3D mode with TriDef 3D from your PC for example it again makes things harder for non advanced users. Furthermore being able to utilize the accelerometer of your smartphone as a head tracking solution would be nice, but it requires even more advanced skills and knowledge. And then there is the thing about the lag for the streaming and the control of the game action when streaming games in stereo 3D mode from your PC…

Moving to movie recording and Augmented Reality use. Here the camera of the phone takes a very important role. For video recording you will most likely be using a single camera that will output a single fullscreen video feed on the screen that would not be suitable for the separate image for each eye type of display that will be used, so a special software taking into account these specifics needs to be developed. The same goes for AR applications, you will need software that can offer augmented reality experiences that will output specifically in Side by Side format in order to work properly on a device such as the vrAse.


There are some more things to consider such as will the lenses provide distortion that needs to be corrected like on the Oculus Rift. Apparently not as such thing is not mentioned and as this would make the content support even harder even though as we’ve seem with the Rift this may also has its own advantages. The good thing is that the lenses will be interchangeable, meaning that they can be replaced with ones that can work for people with less than perfect vision (diopter correction) as apparently this design is also not great for people wearing prescription glasses. Then there is also the concern of “wearing” your smartphone close to your head for long periods of time due to the all of the wireless radios inside (GSM, WiFi, Bluetooth…) as that can be considered as a potential health risk by some people.


At the moment the estimated delivery for the vrAse is set for February 2014 with the lowest early bird price of 48 UK Pounds (all slots for these are full already), and the special (normal retail) Kickstarter price is 78 Pounds or about $121 USD or 90 Euro. Now, with all that said there is a lot of interest and potential for this device as it apparently is taking things much more serious than any similar product being released before both in terms of quality and functionality, but then again we should not forget about the useability and the content as well. I’ll definitely keep a track on how things progress with the vrAse and you might want to keep a track of the project even if you decide not to support it on Kickstarter at the moment.

To check out and support the vrAse Smartphone Virtual Reality Case on Kickstarter…

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