3D Mobile Phones with Gyroscopes – Oh My!

Samsung SCHW960

The mobile phone industry, invigorated by the market success of smart phones, is moving to add still more features to their products. 3D cameras and displays as well as position sensing gyroscopes are likely future additions to phones.  In our analysis we find several technology trends, demos and new product announcements that support the view that smart phones with advanced features are on the way.

Samsung has been demonstrating smart phone size 3D active matrix organic light emitting diode (AMOLED) displays for a few years now at industry events.  Now Samsung has announced their SCH-W960 mobile phone with 3.2-inch WVGA (400×240 pixels) 3D AMOLED touchscreen display (photo below).

The 3D AMOLED display is autostereoscopic, meaning that no glasses are required, and can be switched between 2D and 3D modes.

In other news, Sharp has announced they will ship a 3D camera module (photo below) intended for mobile devices.  The 3D camera module is capable of capturing high-definition (720px2) 3D video images (1280×720 pixels).

Sharp 3D camera module

Sharp will start shipping samples in July, 2010, with mass production of the 3D camera modules later in 2010.  So while consumers may have to wait a while for a 3D-camera-packing mobile phone, they shouldn’t have to wait too long.

Yet another emerging theme for smart phone development is inclusion of a gyroscope that will drive the motion capture and tracking capabilities of smart phones to new levels beyond today’s accelerometer equipped models.

Invensense, Inc. has demonstrated 3-axis gyro plus accelerometer-based motion sensing and processing hardware in a smart phone application.  The addition of the Invensense hardware and software to a smart phone enables accurate gestural input and motion processing capabilities in the phone.  For example, drawing a letter “P” in the air by waving the handset starts the photo viewing application on the phone.  The user can scroll through multiple photos by tilting the phone to the left or right to advance back and forth through the photos.  Tilting the phone fore and aft allows the user to zoom in or out on the photo.  The video below from Invensense provides a good illustration of the capabilities of gyro-sensing input in a smart phone application.

Invensense’s motion sensing solutions have already been widely applied for image stabilization in digital cameras and in gaming including the Nintendo Wii MotionPlus controller accessory and seem to be cost effective and ready for additional applications.

The addition of 3D image capture and display, combined with accurate 3D spatial location sensing using a gyro promises to provide smart phone manufacturers with new ways to differentiate their products and should offer consumers and especially gamers new ways to interact with their handheld devices.

About Phillip Wright