We can all see it coming… with the popularity of 3D movies and the new Nintendo 3DS it is only a matter of time before manufacturers try to get ahead of the game and offer stereoscopic displays on their handheld devices. But does it make sense? The technology does not require any special glasses, but does limit your viewing range for the display to basically “head on”. Most of the technologies support 2D viewing for normal applications, but let’s be honest – 3D is the differentiator and making use of it, even for the user interface, is going to happen.
Of course, I’d like nothing better than to use an iPad or Playbook to watch a 3D movie without glasses, and 3D games in true 3D would be great fun! However this is great for a Nintendo 3DS since it has 2 displays and the 3D display is not used for input at all. On a typical tablet their are not buttons, and touchscreen gestures are king. Once you add a lenticular lens for 3D the touchscreen is not usable! Of course, getting past this limitation is possible, such as the removable covers you can get now for the iPhone and iPod touch, but what a pain!
The other issue is actually using a touchscreen style interface with a stereoscopic interface… how do I select something apparently “above” or “inside” the screen! No to mention the fact that the 3D illusion becomes broken when you place an object, like a finger, in front of the display.
But, I digress. They are coming regardless and we will all feel the growing pains as manufactures try to solve the usability issues. Perhaps it will be like the original introduction of the iPhone – a ground breaking approach that is both practical and fun!