SAN DIEGO – Taiwan smartphone maker HTC demonstrated here a handset capable of capturing and displaying stereo 3-D images and videos, one of a new crop of glasses-free stereo 3-D handsets some see as pointing the way to the future.
The HTC EVO 3D will be exclusively available on the Sprint WiMax network later this year. Sharp is already selling a similar stereo 3-D handset in Japan, and Korea's LG Electronics showed a prototype unit at Google I/O in San Francisco in May.
Market watcher Displaysearch estimates consumers may buy as many as 195 million stereo 3-D smartphones by 2018, creating a $22 billion market. But some handset makers say the technology is not ready for prime time yet.
HTC showed its 3-D design at the annual Uplinq conference sponsored by Qualcomm, the company that designed the 1.5 GHz dual-core Snapdragon processor that powers it. In a demo, the 3-D images showed depth in front of and behind the display, but were only crisp in a very narrow viewing angle.
Qualcomm specified a dual CMOS sensor module, optimized for delivering the best optical alignment for its chips. The chip designer also developed its own software to automatically convert existing 2-D video into stereo 3-D.
A lack of 3-D capable smartphone displays is one bottleneck to delivering such systems, Qualcomm engineers said. A graphics researcher at handset maker Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications said a lack of good stereo 3-D software is also holding back such designs.
In a keynote address here, Qualcomm chief executive Paul Jacobs showed stereo 3-D games, user-generated content and 3-D movies playing on a smartphone.
In a breakout session, Ville-Veikko Helppi, director of marketing at Rightware Oy, described the company's Kanzi 3-D UI, a PC-based design program for creating stereo 3-D content for Qualcomm's Snapdragon chips. The company licenses autostereoscopic technology from MasterImage 3D.
The HTC EVO 3D WiMax phone for the Sprint network