Stereoscopic screens for handheld devices will make the UI look a lot better, and cleaner.
On stereoscopic screens, 3D objects look more real than they do on regular 2D screens. They enable designers to create visual delights that previously couldn’t be achieved on regular 2D screens.
Stereoscopy uses the brain’s built in depth sorting functionality to isolate objects from each other. The benefit of this is that you can concentrate more easily on things at a certain depth, while ignoring the other stuff.
The word breaks down into stereo, which means 2, and scope, which means eye.
You can create a stereoscopic image by moving the camera sideways slightly between two shots. When you show a combination of these images on a stereographic screen it feels like you can reach out and touch the photographed object. Reflections on the surface of the object come alive. Light comes in at one angle to your left eye, and at another angle to your right, and your brain experiences a sense of luxury.
The reflections of this timepiece may look over the top on a regular screen. But they were designed for stereoscopic screens, where reflections look less intrusive, and more glorious.
Even on a normal screen, you can get a sense of how touchable the metal ball will seem on a stereoscopic screen.
The real world is really cluttered. But the brain uses the difference between the two eyes to separate things at different distances. So when you look at the text on the post-it notes on the window, you can comfortably ignore anything in the background. The blinking mockup above doe a poor job of conveying the real sens of calm and depth separation that this scene has on a stereoscopic screen. Sorry.
You’ve seen Avatar in 3D with glasses at the movies. In stores in Malmö you can buy stereoscopic TVs and computer monitors that require glasses. We’ve tried MotorStorm 3D Rift at the office, which makes driving off steep cliffs a visceral delight.
I’m eagerly awaiting the Nintendo 3DS, which you can use without glasses. It will be available in 2011. We’ve seen press releases about Japanese handset makers releasing phones with stereoscopic screens. It will soon be upon us.