Phones

3D movies streaming to your phone over the mobile network? It's coming

Researchers at European boffin-factory Fraunhofer have announced a new video-coding technique capable of streaming 3D films to your mobile, albeit over yet-to-be-launched-here LTE networks.

3D-capable smart phones such as the LG Optimus 3D will be one of the talking points of Mobile World Congress this year, but we're wondering how easy and/or painless it will be to get 3D films on to your phone, given the likely size of the digital files.

Streaming? Not on your nelly over 3G: we suspect we'd only get halfway through Avatar before sailing through our fair-use monthly data limit.

Or perhaps not. Researchers at European boffin-factory Fraunhofer have announced a new video-coding technique capable of streaming 3D films to your mobile, albeit over yet-to-be-launched-here LTE networks. Fraunhofer is showing off its codec at MWC this week, presumably to build buzz and sign licensing deals with mobile firms and digital stores.

Here's the science bit: Fraunhofer's team have invented something called Multiview Video Coding (MVC), which they say can squash 3D films down by as much as 40 per cent for streaming over LTE networks.

"MVC is used to pack together the two images needed for the stereoscopic 3D effect to measurably reduce the film's bit rate," explains scientist Thomas Schierl, who worked on the project.

Colleague Thomas Wirth takes up the tale. "The 2D and 3D bit streams divided up by MVC can be prioritised for each user at the air interface to support different services, thus opening up a completely new field for business models." No, we don't entirely understand it either. But it'll all make sense when we're watching blue people burst out of our phone screens. Hopefully.

What we do understand is the promise that even when driving a car, Fraunhofer's technology will be able to deliver an unglitchy no-buffering experience. That's quite a claim, but we reckon Fraunhofer's stand at MWC could be receiving a fair few visitors keen to see if the technology delivers on its promise.

MVC at MWC? Abbreviation-tastic, but also one of the more intriguing mobile technologies set to make its debut in Barcelona.