“Our goal is not to set the 3D agenda but to redirect it.”

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3DME, the company whose mission is to "change the dynamics in photo sharing, personalisation and printing using 3D technology", is to launch a mobile app which will allow conventional mobile phones and tablets with single lens cameras to capture and view auto-stereoscopic 3D pictures. 

Separate from their 3D photo printing business, Whoosh3D is 3DMe's app for phones/tablets which will convert a conventional 2D device into a 3D device for capture, content creation, and viewing in a glasses-free environment, using depth map generation.

“Our app uses the existing single camera on the device to capture 3D photos and videos” said 3DMe Founder Simon Gemayel talking to 3D Focus. “The photos can be printed directly from the mobile device, in 3D as well as shared to social networks. In addition, our app connects to various content providers for downloading or streaming 2D and 3D video content. There is no need for any conversion, third-party software, or other cumbersome applications.”

The 3D content can be viewed in anaglyph as well as side-by-side instantly. Featured is an app depth adjustment to personalise viewing comfort.

Currently content can be projected into the screen as well as about 4-6 inches out of the screen.

Referring to the business model, Simon said: “Our app will have some direct links to content providers, some for free, and others for payment via some affiliate programs we have put into place."

Whoosh3D is expected to have its own website shortly, incorporating an e-commerce feature for online purchases.

We caught up with Simon and asked why he expects portable 3D content to succeed where Spatial View and their 3DeeSlide failed…

Simon Gemayel: Your question on Spatial View is a good one and extremely relevant.

Let me start by saying, given the complexities of 3D technology, I have a lot of respect for what Spatial View have achieved. However, I do believe there is quite a lot which differentiates us from Spatial View, beginning with our vision and approach to 3D as a mobile app.

Spatial View is primarily a 3D player. Our app actually converts the entire 2D device into a 3D unit, that is to say performing similar to a mobile device with built-in 3D camera and 3D display. With a single click, consumers can create 3D photos and video. In its full version, the app will include features to capture, convert, save, share and print 3D instantly and glasses-free. It will download 2D and 3D video (in side-by-side or Top/Bottom format), convert 2D video to 3D in real-time, play 3D video in 3D, convert 3D video back to 2D (if needed), and will do all this instantly and glasses-free.

Given today's digital trends and direction towards mobility, we believe 3D as an app should be geared towards social networking and must stay relevant to this generation and lifestyle. We are creating a fully loaded 3D mobile app. This is a game changer, beyond any offering today.

3D Focus: How does your lens compare?

Simon Gemayel: Our lens is very clear and sharp. We did test black line parallax barrier screens and were actually able to generate impressive 3D effects, despite the darkening of the device display.

Since we prefer not to require the user to increase screen brightness (and decrease battery life), we have also developed lenticular/optical overlays which do not require the screen brightness to be increased.

With all due respect to Spatial View, in my opinion, having been involved in 3D technology and lenticular manufacturing for more than a decade, their optical lens does not produce good 3D due to their lens focus point, low LPI, and lens tooling, all of which drastically affects normal 2D viewing. Granted, their lens is removable, but this generation of consumers are demanding and want immediacy.

To be fair, my findings are based on tests we conducted last year, and I am not aware of any new or upgraded lens from them. With respect to our optical screens, our LPI is extremely high, our lenticules are practically invisible, and 2D viewing is marginally affected, yet very acceptable. When we develop our optical lenses, we always approach 3D with the mindset that 2D and 3D content must, and will co-exist.

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We present 3D as an option, and not as a solution to replace 2D. Both have their place and uses. For this reason, our app has been designed to enable users to easily access and download 2D content as well as 3D, since it is capable of converting 2D content to 3D instantly. Unlike Spatial View, we have total control on our optical solutions and do not rely on third party suppliers. Given maximizing the 3D viewing experience while minimizing the Moire effect is paramount, our R&D team is constantly testing ways to improve the viewer's comfort level.

It is worth noting that we are diligently developing additional features whereby a simulated 3D image can be viewed without an optical overlay (for sharing photos and video with those who have not installed our app). Other features are in the works, and will be announced in due time.

Our big issue has been, To 3D Case OR Not To 3D Case. How to deliver the optical overlay has consumed almost as much energy and resources as developing our 3D algorithms. The easy way out is an adhesive 3D screen protector (film). Our focus groups have revealed consistent feedback which pretty much indicates the adhesive approach is the weak link in the chain. People do not like installing adhesive screens, and many retailers will no longer provide the service; static dust particles, air pockets, and alignment issues are major obstacles to overcome on a mass market level.

Providing a 3D case is a good option, but then again, with so many different tastes out there and the young generation changing cases so frequently, we have to ask ourselves do we want to develop 3D mobile solutions or become a phone/tablet case manufacturer. So, we think the answer is somewhere in between; we need to offer both options, therefore, we are meticulously developing a solution to address all the issues facing the installation of adhesive film overlays (to be revealed soon, as testing is still under way).

3D Focus: So far, even 3D on mobile did not seem to be the killer app expected by LG and HTC. How will this app stand out?

Simon Gemayel: The fundamental premise to our app is to give it social relevance by developing social networking and photo capture features to make it a true utility app – not just a movie player. Our vision is to bring 3D to the masses and to enable the creation and sharing of personalised 3D content.

Today, 3D is a niche product, and in my opinion, 3D should have been introduced to the masses through mobile devices, not through 3D TV. Users of mobile phones and tablets are naturally in a glasses-free environment when using their mobile devices. These units are designed as single-viewer devices, or having two at most. Also, as hand held devices, the optimum viewing distance and ‘sweet-spot’ are easily achieved.

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Given the success of Avatar, consumer electronics giants jumped on the band wagon and launched 3D too early; despite their having financial resources, the technology was not ready, powerful algorithms were not fully developed, content was lacking, cost was high, no 3D standards were in place, and having to wear 3D glasses was not generally accepted by consumers.

3D Focus: What do you plan for the future?

Simon Gemayel:  We are currently developing features which will connect the device to wireless printers and enable instant 3D prints at a party or event, in real-time, using a normal inkjet or dye-sub printer, free of third party software and tedious post-production requirements.

As we are finalising a series of funding between now and first quarter of 2014, we will announce and reveal more features and applications at a later date. This will include solutions resolving print alignment issues, use of adhesives, lamination, and hot/cold press assembly techniques. We started addressing these important issues several years ago through our 3D desktop photo capture and print software. Our app will extend and be used to connect with our 3D photo booths, video games, AR product line, and others, thereby spearheading and creating a whole 3D ecosystem.

We envision one aspect of 3D as a lifestyle product, and other aspects as utility for education, advertising, mapping, engineering, etc…

Live broadcast for 2D and 3D content for viewing in glasses-free 3D instantly is in the works (no need to save, then convert). I believe this feature is crucial for 3D channels and broadcasters as will no longer limit their growth from the size of their 3D TV market, but to the size of the market for smart mobile devices – basically, with our app, almost anyone with a smart device can avail of 3D content.

It's a shame ESPN3D and BBC 3D have decided to step back, but I'm betting our app will make a difference. With our 3D app technology, we will enable various industries to expand their customer base and create new revenue streams, no longer confined from their traditional market but potentially tap into mobile users worldwide.

We believe our 3D technology is not just a 2D-to-3D conversion software made ‘marginally better’ than what’s out there: what we are developing is a significant paradigm shift which will have exponential impact. Our goal is NOT to set the 3D agenda but to REDIRECT it.. We want to disrupt the industry and create a universal 3D offering for everyone, anytime, anywhere.

It would be ideal when 3D would no longer require an optical overlay to create an optical illusion and trick the eyes, but until such time, our goal is to produce the best possible 3D viewing experience using existing mobile devices, instantly and cost effectively. No doubt, there will always be those who will disapprove of the current limitations which come with glasses-free 3D viewing, specifically the sweet-spot and viewing angle. Realistically, however, we must recognise and accept 3D is not for everyone. And as in most technologies, there are provisions and certain limitations. TV went from black and white, to colour, to HD, yet it can't simulate the human eyes with its 2D viewing experience – but eventually consumers and critics have accepted this as a fact, a limitation, and current reality.

We are not asking consumers to give up their device, or purchase a new "3D" device (for several hundred pounds), hence, our 3D offering is value for money. We are providing a 3D "option" applicable to one's existing device, to be used anytime, anyplace, and at their convenience. More importantly, we are fully aware that people will not want 3D viewing all the time. In fact, research shows that 6% of people cannot see 3D and that some do prefer 2D over 3D. Some photos and videos may even be better suited to 2D than 3D viewing. So having understood all these issues and challenges, we have developed and designed our 3D solution by offering an alternative yet exciting option that is affordable, instant, flexible, user-friendly, high quality, and glasses-free 3D. Whoosh3D really delivers that "WOW!" factor.

For infomation about the company behind the Whoosh3D app, visit the 3DMe website.

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