Poppy turns an iPhone into a stereoscopic 3D camera


June 27, 2013

With a design modeled after an old Viewmaster, the Poppy uses an iPhone's own camera to capture and view stills and video in stereoscopic 3D

With a design modeled after an old Viewmaster, the Poppy uses an iPhone's own camera to capture and view stills and video in stereoscopic 3D

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There are several methods for creating 3D images with an iPhone, and most of those involve just altering an existing image using an app. With the Poppy, you'll be able to shoot your own 3D images and video instantly with just your iPhone. According to the developers, the stereoscopic images produced with a Poppy and an iPhone's HD camera lend a true sense of immersion to your typical snapshots.

If you owned a Viewmaster as a kid, the similarities between it and the Poppy are apparent right away. The developers, Ethan Lowry and Joe Heitzeberg, modeled their design after the old photo-viewing toy, and it functions in a very similar fashion.

Rather than sliding in a circular reel of images, users slip in an iPhone 4/4S/5 or iPod touch and look at the screen through a pair of lenses. The dual lenses separate the two sides of the screen, allowing users to view stereographic pictures and videos from YouTube and other sources in 3D.

The Poppy isn't powered by batteries and doesn't use fancy electronics, it just uses optics and the camera and display on a user's iPhone. After twisting the end of the Poppy open, a set of precisely-positioned mirrors will align with the device's camera and separate any images it takes for left and right eye viewing. Any pictures or videos can then be viewed with a 3D TV, another Poppy, or even just a pair of red and blue glasses. The developers have also designed a free app that will let users capture and organize 3D videos and images, upload them to the internet, and locate other 3D content online.

While it's mainly intended for shooting and watching 3D images, some creative app developers could possibly find other uses for it too. Poppy's creators have already experimented with building CAD models based on 3D images captured using the device, for example.

If this all sounds familiar, that could be because a similar concept called the 3DCone launched on Kickstarter last year, but didn't manage to attract enough funding to enter production. The Poppy on the other hand reached its Kickstarter goal of US$40,000 in less than a day, so it may soon become the first device that takes 3D images with an iPhone camera. Right now, anyone who contributes $49 or more to the Kickstarter can receive a Poppy of their very own when they ship in December of this year.

In the meantime, check out the video below to see just how the Poppy shoots stereoscopic 3D images.

Source: Poppy, Kickstarter

About the Author
Jonathan Fincher Jonathan grew up in Norway, China, and Trinidad before graduating film school and becoming an online writer covering green technology, history and design, as well as contributing to video game news sites like Filefront and 1Up. He currently resides in Texas, where his passions include video games, comics, and boring people who don't want to talk about either of those things. All articles by Jonathan Fincher

Looks like an interesting idea - but I wish they would tell the actors in the video to stop using the word 'it's so cool' all the time - the phrase is so tired now !


The 3d cone seemed to be far more compact, at least for making the movies.

Michael Crumpton
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