Sharp 3D camera module unveiled: headed to Nintendo 3DS?

Sharp are already tipped to be among the companies Nintendo is considering for the 2D/3D display on the upcoming Nintendo 3DS; how interesting would it be if they also supplied the handheld with a 3D-capable camera?  Sharp have just announced a 3D camera module for mobile devices that's not only capable of capturing twin 720p HD video streams but of synchronizing the footage and controlling the optical axis.

That removes the need for a separate 3D controller board, which in turn allows for a smaller overall device and quicker time to market.  Sharp will begin shipping samples of the new 3D module in July, and expect mass production to kick off later this year.  Given the current Nintendo DSi has dual cameras (front- and user-facing) together with basic photo editing abilities, we can't be the only ones excited at the thought of a Nintendo 3DS that can do the same thing with 3D images and video.

Press Release:

Sharp Develops 3D Camera Module for Mobile Devices Capable of Capturing High-Definition 3D Video Images, an Industry First*1

Key Device to Make 3D Video Readily Available

Sharp Corporation has developed a 3D camera module for mobile devices capable of capturing high-definition (720p*2) 3D video images, an industry first. Sharp will start shipping samples in July. Mass production of these modules will begin within 2010.

3D images are composed of two views taken using two cameras that simultaneously capture separate images for the right and left eyes. Consequently, a 3D camera requires peripheral circuitry to apply image processing to the two images, for example, to adjust color or to correct positioning between the images from the two cameras. Manufacturers have thus been pursuing designs that reduce the size and weight of 3D cameras and seeking ways to shorten their development period.

The current 3D camera module developed by Sharp incorporates functions to process the image data output by the left and right cameras, including Color Synchronizing Processing to adjust color and brightness, Timing Synchronizing Processing to synchronize the timing of the video signals, and Optical Axis Control Processing to correct positioning. In addition, Fast Readout Technology rapidly transfers video data from the image sensor, enabling 3D images to be captured in high-resolution HD mode. Further, in developing this camera module, Sharp applied high-density mounting technology nurtured over long years of experience in camera module development to achieve a compact form. Embedding this camera module in mobile devices such as digital cameras, mobile phones, and smartphones will contribute to the development of a wide range of new, innovative communications tools.

In the future, Sharp will be opening up 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.

*1 As of May 12, 2010, for camera modules used in mobile devices.

*2 720 effective scanning lines (progressive scanning system). Resolution: 1280 H x 720 V pixels.