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LG’s Optimus smartphone 2D to 3D conversion technology explained

Gingerbread will bring 3D apps and games
Mon Jul 18 2011, 17:25

AHEAD OF ITS Android 2.3 Gingerbread update, LG took us through the current and future 3D technology of its Optimus 3D smartphone.

Last week we popped down to LG's 'Launch Pods' event for its glasses free 3D phone where we discovered that it will get a Gingerbread update in October, which will bring with it 2D to 3D conversion of applications.

Currently the handset can convert 2D content, restricted to photos and videos, into 3D. This feature was added to the phone only shortly before its release. It also has the ability to adjust the apparent depth of the 3D image using a slider.

Shaun Musgrave, UK product manager at LG told The INQUIRER, "We've worked with a couple of partners to deliver the 'SIM 3D' software for 2D to 3D conversion of photo and video."

For photos, the software takes the image and estimates the depth from each individual pixel. It then creates a left and right model, one for each eye. So, two new images are produced rather than showing you the original and a slightly different copy.

Video content is handled in a different way than images. Here the content is processed on a frame by frame basis rather than by individual pixels. This can be done in real time and the quality of the finished product depends upon the quality of the original file.

2D to 3D conversion isn't a new technology and can be found on pretty much any 3D capable TV, laptop or monitor. It's what LG is planning to bring to the phone later this year that is particularly interesting.

When LG rolls out the update to Android 2.3 Gingerbread for the Optimus 3D in October, the phone will be able to convert applications and games into 3D. To do this LG has worked with a different partner to develop a new software engine for the task.

This will only be able to convert applications and games that have been developed using the popular OpenGL application programming interface. Musgrave told us that the conversion will be the same method as the current photo conversion, estimating depth using individual pixels and algorithms.

A big drawback is that the phone can display 3D content only in landscape mode and this won't change when the update arrives. Any applications or games that use only portrait mode won't be suitable for conversion.

Those that use both portrait and landscape modes will display 3D only in landscape and will automatically switch into 3D. If you're not keen on it then the feature will be able to be switched on and off using the phone's dedicated 3D button.

We can only estimate whether the conversion will be good or not when the update arrives but if the current conversion is anything to go by then the prospects are good. We think it's likely that the result will vary quite a bit from app to app, in the same way that Nvidia rates games differently for their 3D suitability.

We're currently in the middle of our Optimus 3D review and one of the more negative things we've found is the battery life. Musgrave confirmed that LG will be working hard to make the battery life better on top of the help that Android 2.3 Gingerbread will bring in this regard. µ


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