HP creating glasses-free 3D tech for smartphones, tablets

Remember the hologram of Princess Leia in "Star Wars?" That's what this new 3D technology is supposed to look like.

HP is developing new 3D technology that wouldn't require people to wear these glasses.

Hewlett-Packard has been hard at work creating glasses-free 3D technology for mobile devices. That's right, no silly glasses.

Publishing their findings in the science journal Nature today, HP researchers say that this type of technology could transform data visualization, medical training, and entertainment.

The effect is "much like you'd see in the movie `Star Wars' with the hologram of Princess Leia," lead author of the paper David Fattal told the Associated Press today.

Creating 3D for mobile devices is far different than for movies, however. According to Nature, this technology would look like a hologram but is created somewhat differently.

Using a "multiview" approach, the technology uses various geometric optical tricks to create the 3D images. Tiny circular grooves are also etched onto the device's surface, which pop out different views and colors. What's created is a wide viewing angle so that users can see an image in 3D even if they are tilting and moving the screen.

Glasses-free 3D has been in the works by several companies over the past few years. The most well known is Nintendo's 3DS handheld game player (last week the game maker was found liable by a federal jury for patent infringement on its 3DS 3D technology).

To take full advantage of the 3D viewing in Nintendo's 3DS, players must look straight into the screen without moving. HP's new technology, however, lets users look at images from all angles and up to 45 degrees away from the center of the screen, according to the Associated Press.

While it's possible to have 3D animation with this new technology, not everything on a mobile device would be able to have it. According to the Associated Press, anything with live video would be near impossible because it requires at least 64 cameras all capturing the same object.