Flack's software synthesizes 3-D scenes from existing 2-D video by
estimating the depth of objects using various cues; a band of sky at the top
of a frame probably belongs in the far background, for example. It then
creates pairs of slightly different images that the viewer's brain combines
to produce the sensation of depth.
The technology can be used with the much-hyped 3-D televisions announced in
January (which require glasses), but its biggest impact will be as a way to
create content for mobile devices with auto stereoscopic 3-D displays, which
work by directing light to deliver different versions of an image directly
to each of a viewer's eyes. The effect works best over a narrow range of
viewing angles, so it is ill suited to television or cinema screens. But
phones are generally used by one person at a time and are easily held at the
optimum angle. That's why mobile multimedia devices are likely to win the
race to bring 3-D into the mainstream.
Powered by Flack's software, Dynamic Digital Depth has become an early
leader in mobile 3-D. The software was built into the B710, which Samsung
released in South Korea in 2007, and Samsung has licensed 3-D content
generated by Dynamic Digital Depth for its latest 3-D phone, the W960,
released in March. Research firm DisplaySearch recently predicted that by
2018 there will be 71 million such devices worldwide.