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Found Footage: Palm Top 3D Theater creates Pepper's Ghost on the iPhone

David Winograd

A sort of 3D may be coming to an iPhone or iPod touch near you through a new gadget using technology that was developed in 1842 called Pepper's Ghost. Jistsuro Mase, a Japanese artist has created i3DG which converts a 2D images into three layered images that are displayed on three planes using a snap on contraption containing three 45-degree mirrors. The images must be specially designed to be split into three parts, and i3DG then reconnects them for a near 3D effect that can be viewed without glasses. You've probably seen Pepper's Ghost if you've been to a Disney Park, since it's heavily used in The Haunted Mansion and the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror to make characters look like they are appearing out of nowhere.

In the picture above, for instance, the woman is on one screen, while the rest of the room's objects are situated on various other screens. Using see-through glass, all of the images combine into one image, which (if you were looking at it in real life) would then translate into 3D. The effect can be very impressive, as long as you understand that nothing can move from the front to the back since all there is to work with is three layers. The video after the break will show you just how good it can be under the right circumstances.

[via iPhone Download Blog]

To work, the image must be split with the foreground being on top and largest, the mid-ground in the center and bit smaller and the background on the bottom. Everything has to be set backwards, so it can look right when viewed through the mirrors.

Then, snap the i3DG on your iPhone to view it. Since any properly prepared images can work, the i3DG can be used for stills, videos and games, however it only works in portrait mode, the resulting images are rather small and it could be very hard to place buttons for gaming.

There is currently no price, or release date set, so it may never appear at retail, but it is being used for a Palm Top Theater Exhibition by V2, a Dutch center for art and media technology as part of the International Film Festival in Rotterdam at the end of January. A workshop teaching graphic artists how to create content is currently being held. I don't think this has huge potential in terms of commercial use, but it is a very neat effect to see in action.

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