3D glasses may soon be a thing of the past. Researchers at Singapore's Temasek Polytechnic (TP) and A*STAR's Institute of Materials Research and Engineering (IMRE) have developed a “nano-engineered screen protector” that they claim can turn ordinary screens of handheld device into 3D displays. The thickness of this film is less than 0.1mm.

In fact, researchers claim that the screen protector is the first-ever instance of glasses-free 3D accessory that can display content in portrait as well as in landscape mode. 

Dr Jaslyn Law, the IMRE scientist who together with TP worked on the nanoimprinting R&D to improve the film’s smoothness, clarity and transparency, said, “The filter is essentially a piece of plastic film with about half a million perfectly shaped lenses engineered onto its surface using IMRE’s proprietary nanoimprinting technology.”


Can convert ordinary displays into 3D (Image credit: Getty Images)

The team has also developed apps for iOS and Android platforms, using which one can play 3D content through this filter in both landscape and portrait modes. What's interesting is that the app can also be used for converting 2D images clicked on mobiles to 3D. In fact, to help game developers introduce 3D versions of their existing games, the researchers plan to release a software development kit. This product will be marketed by start-up Nanoveu Pte Ltd. 

Frank Chan, the TP scientist – a prominent name in the overall NRF-funded project, said, “The team’s expertise in both hardware and software development in 3D technology has enabled high quality 3D to be readily available to consumers. We have taken age old lenticular lens technology that has been around for the last hundred years, modernised it and patented it using nanotechnology.”

Mrs Lay-Tan Siok Lie, Deputy Principal of TP, said, “The successful development of this product is indeed testimony that we have been able to bridge the gap between R&D and commercialisation in the area of 3D interactive digital media (IDM), aided by the NRF Translational R&D Grant and gap funding from A*STAR.” 

Nanoveu Pte Ltd Founder and CEO Mr Alfred Chong believes that with their plastic film, they can allow users to view 3D graphics on their smartphones or tablets. “This removable plastic also opens up a multitude of opportunities for anyone wanting to create affordable premium 3D content and games for quick adoption to existing portable devices easily,” he said. 

We reported last year that Indian researchers have managed to create a new smartphone technology that allows you to take 3D pictures on your phone. The researchers – Kshitij Marwah and Ramesh Raskar from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have created technology that can provide developers a way to integrate features usually found in DSLR (digital single-lens reflex) cameras into smartphones.

The practical uses of having the capability of taking 3D pictures using nothing more than a smartphone are many. Instead of boring pictures, you'll be able to see people showing off entire “scenes”. Also, the DSLR features that could be used on smartphones will give users many ways to edit their pictures and give them a more professional look. Also useful will be the ability to change the point of focus of the picture after having taken the picture.

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