French researchers develop glasses-free stereoscopic viewing for iPad, iPhone

The two were inspired by work previously done with Nintendo Wii. The technique uses only the camera, not the accelerometer.

Two French researchers have demonstrated that Apple’s iPad can be used for viewing auto-stereoscopic (glasses-free) stereoscopic 3D content. Jeremie Francone and Laurence Nigay from the Grenoble Informatics Laboratory (GIL) recently posted a video online (which you can see at the ned of this article) showing an application running on the iPad 2 which worked with the device’s frontfacing camera to track head movements and thereby generate a “glasses-free monocular (S)3D display.”

A stereoscopic 3D view on the iPad. (Image courtesy GIL)

The duo says they were inspired by the work of Johnny Chung Lee, who showed off a similar glasses-free head tracking demonstration on the Nintendo Wii several years ago. Francone and Nigay demonstrated the same application on the iPhone 4 and have said that the head-tracking technique relies only on the device having a front-facing camera, and not on the iPad or iPhone’s accelerometer. The application requires no additional hardware.

Glasses-free 3D on iPhone

The trick is to track the head of the user with the front facing camera in order to create a glasses-free monocular 3D display. Such spatially aware mobile display enables an improvement of possibilities for interaction. It does not use the accelerometers and relies only on the front camera. The user could move their head left and right to look around a 3D object as shown in the example image above. Apple researchers also suggest that this technology could also be applied to 2D objects like windows to provide some added depth to traditionally flat objects.

The technology is not yet available as a downloadable app.

Demonstration of glasses-free stereoscopic 3D viewing on iPad