Entrepreneur creates 3D View-Master for the Instagram generation


*Original WIRED article here - http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2013-10/10/true-view

An entrepreneur called Peter Brennan has developed a device called True-View that lets users take, view and share 3D photos and videos from their smartphones.

Brennan's startup The Pratley Company -- named after his grandfather -- is aiming squarely at those of us who remember the View-Master.

"My grandfather passed away at the end of 2011 and it was a bit of a game changer for our family. My girlfriend and I decided to leave London and we took off on a road trip around the US. We found an old Sawyer's View-Master in a thrift shop whilst travelling through Portland. I had one as a kid and instantly got these nostalgic feelings coming back. We bought it, and it was just... special. I then started thinking about how I could modernise the concept, and if there'd be a market for this if we did it the right way."

He spend months brainstorming, planning and designing the retro product and now has a prototype. He and the company's creative director, Oscar Fernandez, have launched a Kickstarter campaign to get the funding to take it to market.

The True-View uses a series of mirrors placed at specific angles to each other embedded in the base tray of the device, which looks somewhere between a View-Master and a Polaroid camera. Users inset their smartphone into the True-View and the mirrors reflect light off each other and split the camera lens of the phone into two stereoscopic images.

The images are captured side by side and can then be viewed through the device so that one image is shown to the left eye and one to the right eye. "Your brain then fuses the two images together and, with the help of magnifying lenses inside the True-View, you can see your own photos in 3D," explains the project's Kickstarter page.

True-View -- which is compatible with all of the iPhones as well as the Samsung Galaxy S3 and S4, HTC One and Sony Xperia Z -- can also be used to shoot 3D movies.

Brennan imagines the product will appeal to vintage lovers, and points out that someone described True-View as "like the hardware version of Instagram", which he felt was a "nice compliment".

As for the design, "we drew influence from some of the old box cameras of the 1930s and '40s," he said.

"I'd like to think that anyone with an appreciation for the quality of old school things would be interested in the aesthetic design of it. But the experience is something else. Our target audience is that demographic that likes the aspect of vintage, but loves the magic of modern-day technology too."

The most challenging part of the development has been the fact that 3D technology is still seen as a bit of a gimmick. Brennan says this is because the technology is not "properly delivering yet".

"We're trying to change that by creating a user experience that's new and fresh, and genuinely awe-inspiring. We have to change the perception of the consumer and that's a challenge, but sometimes challenges create wonderful things."