With Nintendo officially rolling out the 3DS today, we thought it worth mentioning that Japanese blog Macotakara reported a few days ago that Apple is considering glasses-free 3D screen technology for a future iPod Touch.
Thanks to a somewhat garbled Google translation, the key quote that blogs are picking up on involves the usual anonymous sources from a vendor potentially supplying parts for the 3D iPod Touch:
According to a source of a company which provides LCD to Apple, they seems to begin preparing to manufacture small glasses-free 3D LCD panel for iPod touch. This 3D LCD panel looks similar to Sharp, corp's LCD which is capable for displaying 3D image without glasses on vertical and horizontal position.
What's interesting about the rumor is the Sharp connection; I indeed saw a version of a glasses-free Sharp autostereoscopic 3D display on an Android smartphone at CES and was actually pretty impressed. You could take a picture using the phone's camera and that image was displayed in 3D (the 3D was viewable without glasses). Those Sharp 3D smartphones are due to start shipping sometime this year, though it remains unclear when they'll arrive in the U.S.
Of course, we take all such rumors with a grain of salt--and they remain speculation until proven otherwise--but the idea of a 3D iPod Touch does make a little sense, if only because there doesn't seem to be that much more Apple can do with the Touch. Sure, it can make its processor faster, improve the camera, and bump up the battery life. But it's already ultrasvelte, so the design seems pretty fully baked (I wouldn't mind it being a little thicker in exchange for even better battery life).
Of course, what will ultimately determine whether the Touch goes 3D is simply whether the technology is good enough to pass muster with Apple and how much it would add to production costs. Whether people really want it is another matter, but we presume Apple will be closely monitoring how the Nintedo 3DS, which comes to the U.S. on March 27 for $249.99, is received in the marketplace.
What do you guys think? Is a 3D Touch the next logical step for Apple? Or a dumb idea?