Review : i3D (iPhone/iPad) : Glasses Free 3D for Free to Thee

photoi3D made some waves a couple of months ago when it unveiled a proof of concept app that allowed folks to peek around a polygonal object ‘inside’ their iPhone. It has been a bit of a wait, but University Joseph Fourier has released their tech demo on the App Store for free.

So, how does it work? It uses the front facing camera to track the position of your head and renders the little virtual object inside to match that viewing angle.

How well does it work? Sigh… Just slightly worse than other video game camera based tracking systems (Eye Toy, Kinect, webcam AR). It helps to have a quiet background, know the limits of the camera’s sight, fulfill a laundry list of lighting conditions, tie your hair back, don’t wear t-shirts with designs on them, don’t be black, etc.

But when it does work? Whooooo boy! Lemme tell ‘ya:

Meh. It’s kinda neat. It’s like a Magic Eye poster: You’ll do the optical illusion once or twice and throw it out.

photo (1)There are six different, very basic 3D ‘boxes’ to look into. The field of vision of the camera severely limits the amount of movement you can get out of it. I spent most of my time trying to get a good center point locked or waiting for the program to respond again after it lost sight of me. Seeing the illusion just isn’t worth the hassle of dealing with the finicky tech.

Still, i3D is free. It never pretends to be more than it is: a term paper about a neat gimmick. I also love it when the prototypes usually reserved for trade shows get released. Reading a dozen pages is just not the same a playing with it yourself. Not necessarily better, just not the same. In the case of i3D, reading about it happened to be more fun than playing with it.

i3D is Free from iTunes for iPhone 4, iTouch (4th gen), and iPad 2 running iOS 4.1 or later.

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