As mobile phone manufacturers continue to squeeze more megapixels into device camera modules, Sharp has added a new ingredient to the mix and claimed an industry first in the process. The company has just announced the development of a 3D camera unit compact enough to be used in mobile devices and capable of capturing movies in 720p high definition.

The new module simultaneously captures separate views from left and right cameras. Fast Readout technology enables rapid transfer of sensor data so that high resolution HD images can be sent for processing to adjust color and brightness, synchronize timing and ensure correct positioning for the viewer's left and right eye. It all results in 3D movies rendered with 1280 x 720 effective pixels.

Furthermore, Sharp applied its high-density mounting know-how and achieved a module form factor suitable for use in compact digital cameras, mobile phones and smartphones (likely gaming hand-helds too, although this wasn't mentioned).

Confirming that it will start shipping sample units to device manufacturers in July, Sharp also stated that it will be looking to create "new 3D markets based on 3D display technologies, including small/medium-size and large-size 3D LCDs, as well as on 3D input device technologies such as 3D camera modules."

With mass production of the module due to start soon, we might well see some portables sporting 3D video cameras making appearances at trade shows in the very near future.