The 3D user interface, like the pre-iPad tablet computer, is one of those long-heralded solutions that has yet to really find its problem. But whether we’re ready for it or not, the same kind of glasses-less 3D found in Nintendo’s 3DS handheld is coming to a smartphone near you. The 3D effect will be great for games and movies, but it’s not clear that it should be used for anything else.
So-called parallax barrier screen designs from Sharp and Master Image, which can deliver a good-looking 3D image without requiring the user to don any kind of special eyewear (i.e., « autoscopic 3D »), cost in the neighborhood of $15 to add to a smartphone-sized screen. That’s not a lot of money, given how good the 3D effect is—I saw one in action at the Scaleform booth on the floor of NVIDIA’s GPU Technology Conference, and it looked very good. These are going to be a hot item when they start hitting the market.