While 3D seems to rule the cinema, there is still a question as to whether the technology will take hold in home markets. There are few affordable cameras capable of taking real 3D pictures, but a new Kickstarter project hopes to change that by adding 3D picture and video capabilities to the iPhone.
The device, known as the 3Dcone, is a cone-like apparatus that attaches to the top of an iPhone 4 or 4S. It contains several mirrors, which allow the phone to simultaneously take pictures from two slightly different angles. The 3Dcone app then combines the images to create true 3D.
iPhone photography fans know that there are already several 3D apps on iTunes’ app store. However, these stereoscopic apps don’t offer true 3D. Users need to take a picture, then move their iPhone to a slightly different angle to take a second picture. This process results in some impressive 3D images, but because the iPhone doesn’t take the photos simultaneously, the apps cannot capture moving objects. Everything in frame needs to remain in the same position from shot to shot.
Because photographers often have trouble achieving these perfect conditions, stereoscopic apps are more of a fun gimmick than an actual tool for amateur and professional photographers. The 3Dcone could be the first add-on and app combination to bring true 3D to the masses. It exports data in several formats, including RAW, anaglyph (red/blue video) or interlaced. Users can also upload their creations directly to YouTube. In order to see the images in 3D, viewers need 3D glasses, but the technology does not require any special monitors or TV screens.
The 3Dcone fits perfectly onto a iPhone 4 or 4S, locking into place when the device is horizontally oriented. As it is essentially a lens add-on, it does not feature any digital electronics or hardware. The iPhone handles all of the necessary processing to render three-dimensional images.
SaturnTech, a U.S.-based design firm created by engineer Itamar Roth, has a plan for manufacturing and marketing the 3Dcone if the project receives enough backers to get off of the ground. Roth created the 3Dcone prototype with a 3D printer, but Saturntech will likely use a San Diego-based production company to mass produce the device. The company’s Kickstarter page details a quality control process, which the company will carry out before shipping any 3Dcones to customers, and SaturnTech aims to keep all production in the United States.
The device may eventually come in a variety of colors. Although the Kickstarter page does not mention whether backers can choose their color preference, the site’s graphics show orange and purple options.
For buyers interested in samples of the device in action, SaturnTech’s YouTube channel shows a few videos taken with 3Dcones in various environments.
When this article was written, the Kickstarter project had about $2800 of its $44,000 goal and 87 backers. However, backers have more than a month to fund 3Dcone. iPhone camera fanatics who pledge $29 or more will receive a 3Dcone of their own.