How Does 3D on the iPad 2 Work?

An App made waves recently for being able to emulate 3D on the iPad but how does it work? Simple: Head-Coupled Perspective. But will 3D come to the iPad?

The 3D App

The technology which is currently being utilized only on the iPad (as seen on PC World) right now uses the device’s front facing camera to track the user’s movements. When a user moves their head around the iPad, the perspective of what is displayed on screen is changed. If more than one person were to look at the screen, only one will see a realistic perspective change.

The beauty of this setup is that rotating or moving the iPad isn’t required. Perspective only changes when the user moves which allows for more fluid movement.

3D Explained

The 3D tracking system on the iPad 2 utilizes head tracking to shift the interface according to how the user would normally perceive the digital environment if what was really being displayed had depth. Face tracking is nothing new and in fact has been around long before the iPad even existed but only recently have new and exciting uses been cultivated for body and facial tracking.

Microsoft’s Kinect functions similarly in that it tracks a user’s movement and translates it in to an action performed on screen to interact with the game or environment. This Apps work similarly and instead tracks a user’s face to tilt the environment displayed on the iPad. This isn’t so much a 3D trick but more of a visual illusion that doesn’t require glasses to render the effect.

Alternatively Nintendo uses the same visual trickery to create the illusion of depth for the 3DS and some iOS Apps use the accelerometer to accomplish the same effect.

Will 3D Come To The iPad?

The biggest question is whether or not 3D will come to the iPad. This isn’t an easy question to answer as Apple has not even begun to discuss 3D environments for use with the iPad or Mac.

There are many types of 3D systems Apple could use but assuming they are willingly to adopt the feature, glasses would be out of the question. Current 3D displays require the use of glasses to render video and images with depth. The downside of 3D is that many feel it is unnecessary and promotes eye strain.

However, Apple could adopt the glassess-free 3D system as displayed above. Adding depth would be easier and not require glasses while giving users a unique view on an existing interface. However, adding 3D capabilities to the iPad’s interface would drain battery much faster as the illusion of depth would require more processing power and the video camera would always be on.