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Sharp develops modular 3D camera system

By Damir Beciri
13 May 2010

sharp-modular-3d-camWe already wrote about a 3D camera from Fujifilm named the Real 3D W1, however, the folks from Sharp have added a new ingredient to the mix and claim they have achieved  an industry first in the process. The company has announced the development of a 3D camera unit compact enough to be used in mobile devices and capable of capturing movies in 720p high definition.

The new module simultaneously captures separate views from left and right cameras, thus achieving stereoscopy. Stereoscopy is a technique capable of recording three-dimensional visual information or creating the illusion of depth in an image by taking a photograph of an object from 2 different angles in the same time. Different perspectives offered by each eye’s line of sight enables the brain to process depth perception and therefore see images in three dimensions.

“The system aims to exploit this by using two small lenses that can simultaneously capture separate images for the left and right eyes to create synchronised 3D pictures”, said Miyuki Nakayama, a Sharp spokeswoman.

Fast Readout technology enables rapid transfer of sensor data so that high resolution HD images can be sent for processing to adjust color and brightness, synchronize timing and ensure correct positioning for the viewer’s left and right eye. It all results in 3D movies rendered with 1280 x 720 effective pixels.

Confirming that it will start shipping sample units to device manufacturers in July, folks from Sharp also stated that it will be looking to create “new 3D markets based on 3D display technologies, including small/medium-size and large-size 3D LCDs, as well as on 3D input device technologies such as 3D camera modules.”

Since the lenses are pretty close to each other, we believe it will be used for 3D photographs of nearby small objects rather than 3D scenery photographs (unless you pair and synchronize several modules). With mass production of the module due to start soon, and the fact it doesn’t use the cutting edge technology, we expect to see this modular technology become much more affordable for usage among compact digital cameras, mobile phones and smartphones.

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