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EyeFly 3D screen protector makes iPhone 5 3D-capable

The nano-engineered plastic film, developed by a team of researchers from Singapore, turns mobile devices into glasses-free 3D displays.

EyeFly
Glasses-free 3D on the fly. Jacqueline Seng/CNET Asia

If you've always wished you could watch 3D content on your mobile device, you're in luck. A team of Singapore-based researchers has developed a special film that turns the screens of mobile devices into 3D-capable displays.

The EyeFly 3D film, which looks just like a typical screen protector, actually consists of 500,000 miniaturized lens-like structures that measure about one-thousandth the width of a human hair. When applied to a mobile device, the filter works with dedicated iOS and Android apps to render stereoscopic 3D content for playback. Nanovue, a startup set up to bring the EyeFly 3D to market, is working on apps to convert existing 2D content to stereoscopic 3D.

There's one tradeoff: In our tests, the film made the iPhone 5's Retina Display look like it had a lowered resolution, as text and icons appeared to have jagged edges. Screen brightness remained the same.

At $34.95, the EyeFly 3D film is a lot more affordable than buying a 3D phone such as the LG Optimus 3D Max to view 3D content. It is now available for preorder online, with worldwide shipping costs inclusive until May 1. The units are expected to ship later this month. Nanovue is also working with distributors to bring EyeFly 3D to physical stores in the U.S., U.K., Australia, Thailand, and Singapore.

Right now, only the models compatible with the iPhone 5 and fifth-gen iPod Touch are available for preorder. However, the company plans to introduce EyeFly 3D films for the iPad and popular Android devices in coming months. Asked about other platforms such as Windows Phone and BlackBerry, Nanovue CEO Alfred Chong said the company is looking at the market and gauging popularity first.

He added that the company is also exploring using the same technology in security tokens used in Internet banking. So instead of a bulky authentication token or a keypad and display on a credit card, you could look through a cutout covered by one of these films to decipher a code onscreen.

The EyeFly 3D film took a team of seven people from Singapore's Institute of Materials Research and Engineering and Temasek Polytechnic two years to develop.

(Source: Crave Asia)