Movies in 3D cost hundreds of millions of dollars to produce, and this is felt by moviegoers who pay the higher price to see them. Therefore it should follow that making 3D content is difficult and expensive.
But Israel-based Mantis Vision is allowing people to capture what their smartphone camera sees in real time, in 3D. The company sees its technology as being able to re-invent the photograph – it envisions people sharing 3D memories with their friends as if they were there at the time.
“We believe that 3D will be the next step of imaging, of content creation. The big use case is that you can capture moments in your life in 3D and share them,” Mantis Vision CEO Amihai Loven said.
And these images won’t require access to expensive and specialist equipment; they will come from smartphones and tablets.
“The sensors combine colour footage collected from the camera with infrared depth data to provide a 3D view“
“Today 3D content is being produced by professional organisations. Tomorrow, and if you want a date for tomorrow it is early 2015, we are very close to a time where people like me and you, regardless of any expertise in anything will be able to take a mobile device a tablet or phone and capture very high-quality 3D data,” says Loven.
Or, as a statement on the company’s website puts it: “It’s about moving beyond static 3D models into dynamic 4D immersive experiences.”
It has taken nine years in the making and incorporates hardware and software that is able to detect the environment and create a create a 3D image from it – all from a smartphone. Mantis Vision means serious business as well, having previously partnered with Google on its Project Tango and released a new tablet with Flextronics that incorporates the technology.
Working on Project Tango led the Mantis team to see its tech embedded in a tablet and the overall aims of the project showed the potential use of 3D image capturing devices.
Google says: “What if you could capture the dimensions of your home simply by walking around with your phone before you went furniture shopping? What if directions to a new location didn’t stop at the street address? What if you never again found yourself lost in a new building? What if the visually impaired could navigate unassisted in unfamiliar indoor places?”
This 3D re-creation of the wider environment isn’t how Mantis sees itself using the tech but it gives an idea of what 3D can be done. The sensors combine colour footage collected from the camera with infrared depth data to provide a 3D view of what is happening in the world.
“There is also huge potential for online retailers to use 3D content creation“
The new tablet that came out of Project Tango has an eight-inch screen with a resolution of 1900 x 1200. It’s the dual image sensors on the back that make it stand out from other devices. It is only available to developers at present.
Loven says there has to be trade-off between the depth that the 3D can be captured in and the quality. The amount of frames per second that are captured will also make a difference to the final product. He said that even capturing one frame per second would give a 2D image more depth.
These factors all have to be balanced out with the battery power that a phone or tablet uses when capturing images.
Sharing in 3D
The question is, who needs it? Loven and Mantis believe that when we have 3D imaging available to us, then we will use it.
Loven says that when the first cameras were invented people soon demanded more detail; they wanted their images to be
able to move. He sees 3D as natural progression to that.
Now he wants to make sure 3D image creation gives us better ways to connect and communicate with loved ones.
“It will allow you to share experiences in a much more immersive way, so we define the need as an emotional connection, which is not met to a full level by 2D where you basically share information,” Loven says. “If you want to give more of the experience to share the 3D it will give you a much more significant way to see your sister, your child, or your wife, or
your friends. That’s where we are heading.”
Proving cynics wrong
The technology, at the moment, feels like it could be met with a lot of scepticism. When Vine was first introduced by Twitter critics took a cynical approach to what could be done with six- second videos – but how wrong the cynics were.
Mantis’ 3D capture, if it is done correctly, could fall into the same branch as Vine. The potential is there, but it depends on how it is presented to the customer.
“The whole idea behind this new technology that enables new content and new services was to take the imaging world one step forward“
Loven says everything about the technology comes down to the user’s experience and how they react to being able to capture the world around them in 3D. Because the technology is driven by how the individual sees things, “you cannot cheat the visual satisfaction levels,” he says. It makes developing the user experience into an ongoing task.
At present Loven sees the main market in allowing users to quickly capture their surroundings and then send them to someone on the other side of the world. But he says there is also huge potential for online retailers to use 3D content creation.
“Together with social networking, the whole idea behind this new technology that enables new content and new services was to take the imaging world one step forward to sharing of better emotional connecting data and experience,” he says.
But he concedes that he will ultimately not have the control of how, and if, it is adopted as “the real direction will come from the market.”
Images one and three courtesy of Google.