Make Your Own 3D
But what about home video and photography? When will that show up in 3D? Fujifilm is on the task. At CES, the company showed off a point-and-shoot camera called the FinePix REAL 3D W1—it has two lenses, two sensors, and takes two shots every time you take a picture. The camera merges the left and right images into a single image. The 3D image can be viewed on the display on the backside of the camera, but it can also be loaded from the camera’s SD card onto an 8-inch monitor from Fujifilm. The camera sells for $600, and the monitor for another $400 (that is, if you can find them. They’re supposed to be available for purchase in the U.S. but I only found them on Japanese import sites).
The monitor, as well as the display on the back of the camera, operate under the same principals as the 3D TVs—they’re coated in lenticular lenses. If you’re wondering what this stuff looks like, it’s the same textured, plasticky stuff that sometimes came on a small collectible card in your cereal box as a kid. If you ever had a toy that displayed one image when held at one angle, and another image at another angle, then you know what I’m talking about. The lenticular lenses on the products I saw we’re merely more evolved versions of that same textured plastic paper.
Speaking of paper, Fujifilm also sells consumers prints of the 3D images they took with their FinePix Real 3D W1. Guess what? These come back to you in the mail coated on, what else, lenticular lens paper!
I got to test out the camera and monitor, as you can see in these not-so-great pictures. It doesn’t translate well via these images, but the 3D images displayed on the back of the camera and the monitor were the best 3D images we saw at CES. I think it has something to do with the tiny screen size. The edges of objects popped right off the screen. I wasn’t able to record any video, but the demonstration videos FujiFilm showed were clear and sharp.
Granted, it is tough to imagine someone loving the look of a tiny 3D family picture so much that he purchases a $600 camera just so he can stare at the back of the camera all day. Fujifilm recognizes this—and in many ways, the product is merely a representation of what the company could do once it is convinced that auto-stereoscopic 3D is here to stay. If I haven’t made it clear already—I hope the consumer electronics industry shifts away from glasses and towards lenticular lenses on screens. The technology needs a bit of work, but it will be worth it in a few years so we can avoid the in-between and inconvenient step of 3D glasses.