Rumour: Next iPod touch to pack glasses-free 3D

In amongst a virtual torrent of Apple rumours this week, one from Japan's Kanteidan Blog stands out, if only for its odd mix of wild speculation and patent-based evidence.

According to the blog, spotted by Technabob, Apple is gearing up to introduce glasses-free 3D, à la Nintendo's 3DS, in the next-generation iPod touch. Assuming the Cupertino-based company follows tradition, the next iPod refresh will be announced in September, with devices available soon after.

Citing an unnamed source at a company that reportedly supplies LCD screens to Apple, Kanteidan Blog claimed small-scale production of 3D LCD screens similar to this one from Sharp is ready to begin. The purported final product would use three-dimensional head-tracking and take advantage of the accelerometer and gyroscope already found in the latest-generation iPod touch and iPhone. The actual tracking would apparently be done via a front-facing camera not unlike those already found in today's iDevices. Kanteidan Blog have even put together a brief video outlining how they believe a 3D-capable iPod touch would work.

Preventing the Kanteidan Blog post from being dismissed as mere flight of fancy is Apple's apparent interest in 3D display technologies as shown in a number of patent filings. A 2006 filing, only discovered when it was granted last month, the company proposed ''inexpensive auto-stereoscopic 3D displays that allow the observer complete and unencumbered freedom of movement''. Autostereoscopic technology is also used in the 3DS handheld. In a June 2008 filing, Apple detailed a ''Hyper-Reality'' display that could add depth to 2D images in a similar way to that demonstrated in the Kanteidan Blog video below.

Yet on the other side of the equation, it seems unlikely that Apple would take a risk on an as-yet unproven technology. The company's ''take it slow'' attitude towards emerging technologies would suggest Apple will wait until at least the first generation of glasses-free 3D gadgets have been released and thoroughly market-tested.

The adoption of 3D displays in the iPod touch line would also work counter to Apple's push for better battery life with each generation. As Neowin reported earlier this month, battery life on the Nintendo 3DS is less-than-stellar, with the handheld to last as little as three hours playing 3D games. Much of the device's thirst for power can be attributed to its autostereoscopic display, suggesting Apple would be wary of introducing a similar screen into an iPod.

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34 Comments

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I get so sick of hearing about battery life. Where will you be with your iPod that you have no way of charging it up? It has a USB cable and that si all you need to carry. If you charge it overnight it should last you a full day. I man, who has a job where their iPod can be in their ears all day? And I want that job too. And I bet there is a plug nearby right?

Even if you are traveling even if the battery only lasted 5hours, isn't that enough? That would last all USA fights except to Hawaii. But many planes have outlets or you can just charge it with the laptop you're carrying.

Cars can use the cigarette lighter with a charger, so you can charge it in your car. Most train rides home are less than 1 hour.

Again I just don't see how long the battery needs to las past 4 hours. If My iPhone or iPod battery last 4hrs on a full charge, that is more than enough.

And if you don't have a job and you are at home all day, why do you care about charging it or how long the battery lasts?

Einlander said,
I heard from my unnamed source that the iphone will cure all illnesses, known and unknown and will raise the dead.
I heard that too! Post as front page news please.

derekaw said,
No, Apple will not do this, 3D is not ready it is a huge risk.

Its not a huge risk. TV's are already going 3D. Its the cost that makes it hard to buy for most. That is changing. Portable 3D devices have a smaller screen that can be produced cheap. APple could pull it off easily and the Touch would remain the same cost.

The only risk? Would not be doing it first.

This would be cool, but i couldn't see it happening next generation..

Maybe the generation after when the technology has matured a bit

watchthisspace said,
I think I'll wait and see, but I doubt Apple would do that just yet.
They won't, they'll sit on it for a while and watch what others do. Then later on release their own version claiming that they invented it and how it will revolutionize the market people will buy it by the truck load (and other companies will rush to copy it) and Apple will be laughing to the bank

Astra.Xtreme said,
This would surely make the iTouch's unnecessarily expensive.

Right, and Apple products are usually sooo cheap. Damn them!

TDT said,

Right, and Apple products are usually sooo cheap. Damn them!

Their portable devices are very competitively priced. When it comes to the iPod touch and iPad I have yet to see a product that's actually cheaper while offering largely the same level of quality.

TDT said,

Right, and Apple products are usually sooo cheap. Damn them!

Uhh... $200 for an 8GB iTouch is not bad at all. If it becomes $300 for an 8GB 3D iTouch, then that's ridiculous, hence why I said "unnecessarily expensive". I don't think many people would think 3D on a 4" screen is a feature worth paying a premium for.

I doubt it. It can already be done using the accelerometer, plus if they did it (as show in the video of the jet plane), it would render controls completely useless.

Caleo said,
This isn't anything that can't be done on current ipods with proper code

True, but you'll need a pretty hefty update in order to apply those changes to existing software.

Edit: Now that I think about it, maybe the camera just isn't good enough. I mean, we'd have probably already seen this kind of thing on existing iPods if it were possible, since this is quite a well known technique. Hell, maybe the CPU just wouldn't be able to handle headtracking aswell as games.

Edited by Uhyve, Jan 18 2011, 2:11pm :

I wouldn't be surprised. I read an article a while back where Apple was discussing how they believe the iTouch is their "handheld console." In my opinion, implementing glasses-free 3D would a really smart move.

Chaltalian said,
I wouldn't be surprised. I read an article a while back where Apple was discussing how they believe the iTouch is their "handheld console." In my opinion, implementing glasses-free 3D would a really smart move.
Would it be that awesome if you could only use it for 30 minutes on a charge?

Minooch said,
I "Hate" apple products - But if this is true I *might* actually buy this

I love Apple products, but I wouldn't buy this ****.

I'm sure Apple have more sense and realise battery life is key.

Minooch said,
I "Hate" apple products - But if this is true I *might* actually buy this

+1

itunes and the iPod are the only Apple products I care about.