Swindon-based British company Dialog Semiconductor has created a chip that can perform real-time 2D to 3D conversion for mobile devices, including phones and tablets. The DA8223 also contains a parallax screen driver that, when combined with a parallax barrier filter, will create 3D images to be viewed without glasses.

It works by analysing each 2D video frame and creates a layered depth map, bringing forward foreground objects and sending backgrounds to the rear of the image - creating depth perception. Then, each image pixel is mapped to left or right as applicable, and is sent to the correct eye via a parallax barrier filter. Also, as the chip is hardware driven, it makes no demands on the device's processor.

It also runs at very low power, so shouldn't impact on a device's battery life.

Of course, this is all dependent on the device adopting the correct hardware - such as compatible screen technology (the parallax barrier filter) - and can't be retrofitted, but potentially, a tablet or phone including this chip will be able to render all content into 3D, including video calls and FaceTime, for example, rather than just ready-made movies.

“The demand for a 3D experience on your smartphone is now here, but very little 3D content currently exists," says Mark Tyndall, VP corporate development and strategy at Dialog Semiconductor. "Using the DA8223, our customers can, without compromising battery life, create a truly unique offering; products with immediate access to unlimited 3D content.”

“The DA8223 is the first hardware based 2D-3D conversion technology optimised for portable devices. It requires virtually no software development and uses a tiny fraction of the battery and compute power of competing application processor based software-approaches."

The chip will be available to mobile device manufacturers in 2011, with samples coming early on allowing products to hit mass production for the latter half of the year.

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