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Do-It-Yourself 3-D Viewer for Smartphones

Apr. 18, 2012 - 11:36AM   |  
By MICHAEL PECK   |   Comments
Above, a 3-D viewer for smartphones that can be made with crisp cardboard and a pair of scissors.
Above, a 3-D viewer for smartphones that can be made with crisp cardboard and a pair of scissors. (Institute for Creative Technologies)
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Proving once again that the best ideas are often the simplest ones, researchers have developed a 3-D viewer for smartphones that can be made with crisp cardboard and a pair of scissors.

“Training applications could be developed which allow personnel to pre-visualize and look around inside the geometry of a town or building,” Bolas said. The technology could also be adapted to teach doctors-in-training about complicated body parts, providing 3-D representation of the eye or the heart.

The viewer uses a stereoscopic technique similar to that applied by photo interpreters who analyzed aerial photographs during World War II. FOV2GO simply places left-eye and right-eye views of a smartphone screen side-by-side and then uses two simple magnifying lenses to look at them.

“The basic housing can be made with a razor blade and cardboard or foam core,” Bolas says. The FOV2GO website includes instructions on how to cut and fold the viewer, as well as software that developers can use to create 3-D apps for smartphones.

Counting two magnifying lenses at 50 cents apiece, plus another $1 to $2.50 depending on the quality of the cardboard and the tape used to hold it together, Bolas estimated the cost of the viewer at $2 to $3.50.

When asked why no one had thought of such a simple idea before, Bolas replied that “there is not a specific piece of technology that is new here.” The problem became a systems engineering challenge, where developers had to create a low cost, yet effective, technology platform.

“The real breakthrough was the understanding that, in fact, this should not cost anything,” he said. “It is hard to accept that what was once a $100,000 system is now effectively free and can fit in one’s pocket.”

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