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Turn iPhone, Pixel or Galaxy phone displays into 3D with this screen protector

Meet the Holoscreen protector: the Google Cardboard of 3D.

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Holoscreen can turn your iPhone's display, or any phone for that matter, into 3D.

Angela Lang/CNET

In a corner conference room, Han Jin, the CEO of Lucid, places an old iPhone 7 Plus on the table. He swipes through pages of apps, showing me what looks on all counts to be a normal iPhone with a screen protector on it. Then, he opens the Lucid app and plays a clip from Avatar in 3D. I look at him astonished, realizing he just made the iPhone 3D.

This isn't some magic trick, but rather a screen protector that can make the iPhone's display, or pretty much any phone for that matter, show 3D. It works by using a special lenticular screen protector called the Holoscreen along with Lucid's app.

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The screen looks normal when not using Lucid's app. Email and texts are sharp and crisp. But with the app, I can view photos and videos in 3D, and the effect looks very smooth. I didn't see the banding or ghosting that you see from some 3D screens such as those on the Nintendo 3DS.

I can even take my own 3D photos and videos and share them using the app, too. The one caveat here is you need a phone with two rear cameras like the iPhone 7 Plus to do so.

The two companies behind the Holoscreen are Holitech and Lucid. Holitech makes and supplies displays for midrange phones and Lucid makes AI-based 3D and depth capture software for phones. Notably Lucid partnered with Red on the 3D camera functionality on its Hydrogen One phone.

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The Holoscreen looks like a regular old screen protector and works as one. But when used with Lucid's app, it turns your phone display into 3D.

Angela Lang/CNET

What's remarkable is that really the only other phone with anything like this 3D-wise is the Red Hydrogen One, which sells for $1,295. One of the criticisms I had about the Red Hydrogen One was that you could only share 3D videos and photos with people who had their own Hydrogen One.

The Holoscreen's price is much less and will be around $30 to $40 -- not much more than a normal screen protector. This affordable price should allow many people to try 3D out on a phone for the first time. The Holoscreen aims to be to 3D content what Google Cardboard is to VR.

I don't think the Holoscreen will transform anyone's deep-seated beliefs or hatred for 3D. But for many people who are curious about 3D, this seems to be an affordable way to test the waters. And if you don't like the 3D effect or stop watching content over time, the Holoscreen still works as a screen protector.

The Holoscreen protector will go on sale this summer.

Originally published Feb. 26, 12:01 a.m. PT.
Updated, 10.30 a.m. PT.

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