i3D: Glasses-Free 3D Demos now Available on iPhone and iPad

The folks over at the Engineering Human-Computer Interaction research group (University of Grenoble, France) just released to the public their glasses-free 3D app for the iPad 2 and iPhone 4. Unlike the technology used in the Nintendo 3DS, which uses multi-layer screens to simulate a 3D experience, this app uses head-tracking mechanisms to tweak the image displayed on the device, based on the location of the viewer. The result: one of the – if not the – most impressive glasses-free 3D demo for the iPhone and iPad we’ve seen thus far.

To simulate 3D, the app uses the device’s front camera to track the movements of the viewer, and automatically generates pictures designed to simulate the third dimension, on a plain flat screen.
Head-Coupled Perspective (HCP) on mobile devices allows to create a glasses-free monocular 3D display. It is based on a efficient head-tracker that uses the front-facing camera of the device. We use an off-axis projection in order to adapt the perspective of the 3D scene according to the head’s position of the user. Such spatially-aware mobile display enables to improve the possibilities of interaction.

While at this stage, these are only demos, the technology built by the research group could be used in a slew of apps, such as 3D games or even photography apps, to offer a full blown, tri-dimensional experience, on iPhones, iPod touches and iPad. The app, called i3D, is free. It is compatible with iPhone 4, iPad 2, and fourth generation iPod touch. It offers 5 different impressive demos, to give you a taste of what apps leveraging the technology could look like.