Mobile devices offer best form factor for 3-D

ABI Research says mobile devices may bring 3-D technology to the mainstream.
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Dialog Semiconductor’s chip offers real-time 2-D-to-3-D conversion for mobile devices. Image courtesy Dialog Semiconductor.

Mobile devices may be the most likely form factor to introduce 3-D content to mainstream audiences, says senior analyst Victoria Fodale at ABI Research. The firm has forecast that by 2015, smart phones, notebooks, mobile Internet devices and portable game players will be among the 3-D devices that will comprise more than 11 percent of the total mobile device market. One of the strong suits of mobile devices is that auto-stereoscopic, or glasses-free, 3-D viewing is now possible. Similar glasses-free auto-stereoscopic screens are still not possible on TV screens and other larger form factors. With a mobile device, users can also easily move a mobile screen to find the sweet spot for viewing 3-D content.

“Unlike 3-D TVs, the mobile category has a fast replacement cycle,” Fodale said. “This means consumers are more likely to buy a mobile device with 3-D in an upgrade purchase much sooner than they would purchase 3-D in a larger form factor such as a flat-screen television.”

ABI Research predicts that the growth and acceptance of mobile 3-D devices will be driven by three key applications: creation of user-generated 3-D content by integrated video and still cameras; playback of 3-D content; and 3-D gaming. As of the end of 2010, only a few smart phones and notebooks with 3-D capability shipped, most of them in Japan, but there’s plenty of 3-D mobile news brewing: In addition to Sharp’s announcement that it will release 3-D phones in 2011, UK-based Dialog Semiconductor just created a chip, available in 2011, which can perform real-time 2-D-to-3-D conversion for mobile devices, including phones and tablets, for glasses-free viewing.