Cheap, glasses-free 3D coming to i-devices; should Nintendo be worried?

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This week Nintendo will finally announce ship dates and pricing for its new 3D handheld gaming system. I haven't had the chance to experience the Nintendo 3DS yet and it's the kind of thing you need to use yourself in order to see the effect. My curiosity is getting the better of me. I guess I could go to a kiosk in a store somewhere and check out some grimy unit that's been drooled over by the punters, but knowing myself I'll probably purchase my own 3DS just so I can see what the fuss is all about. But the truth is, between my Droid and my iPad I have all the portable gaming I need. My existing Nintendo DS hasn't been used in months. If only I could experience glasses-free 3D on one of my existing devices...

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And so the universe provides. Spatial View is a firm that's launching a glasses-free 3D system for (initially) the iPhone & iPod Touch, with iPad support to follow later in the Fall and Android support further down the road. The system is comprised of an app and a lens holder that you slide your device into. The lens holder places a lenticular lens over the screen of your device and the app does the magic of using the lens to send slightly different images to each eye, creating the 3D effect. Spatial View is launching a content repository called 3DeeCentral to provide 3D materials for users to enjoy. Now to be fair to the Nintendo 3DS, Spatial View is targeting this at movies and photos and not games, but if the system does well maybe that will change.

BusinessInsider got some hands-on time with the system and came away impressed, though said the effect wasn't as pronounced as it was when you're watching a big screen and wearing glasses. With the hardware component of the system selling for $20 I think I can live with that (presumably the iPad version will cost more due to size). No word yet on what content will cost, though.

Presumably the 3D effect will be limited to depth; I think this is just a limitation of lenticular lens systems. What I mean is that it'll feel like you're looking into a box rather than having items 'pop out' of the screen at you. My understanding is that the Nintendo 3DS has the same limitation.

I'm still not convinced I really need any kind of 3D system but as I said earlier I can't help but be curious and wonder if I'm missing out on something. Spending $20 on a Spatial View system sure is a less expensive way to satisfy my curiosity than spending several hundred on a Nintendo 3DS, or several thousand on a 3D television and enough glasses to equip family and friends.

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