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Ditch the glasses with i3D app for iOS

3D goes glasses-free for iPads and iPhones with the i3D demonstration app. Head tracking technology follows your face to amp up the visual illusion.

i3D screenshot
i3D watches you watching it.
Video screenshot by Amanda Kooser/CNET

3D mania is in full swing. We have to have our movies in 3D. We're lusting after TVs in 3D. And yet our iPhones and iPads are annoyingly wallowing in the flat world of 2D.

We may not be stuck in that state for too much longer, thanks to i3D, a proof-of-concept app that shows the potential for glasses-free 3D in our hands.

The app is based on a pretty simple idea. It tracks your face using the forward camera and adjusts the display image accordingly. If you move, the image moves along to still give you the 3D illusion. The fancy name for this is "Head-Coupled Perspective."

It takes just a few short minutes to make your way through ogling all of the demonstration images in i3D. The technology works fairly well, but it definitely prefers decent lighting so it can see where your face is.

The app isn't going to blow your socks off, but it's cool enough that you'll want to hand it off to other people and say, "Try this!"

The app's creators speculate that Head-Coupled Perspective combined with a stereoscopic display (as opposed to the app's monocular display) could create a more intense 3D effect. Soon enough, we may have blue aliens flying out of our iPads without those pesky glasses getting in the way.