‘i3D’ Tricks Your Eyes Into Seeing 3D, But Will It Be The Tool Developers Use To Put 3DS Games On The iPhone?

There’s a way to simulate 3D visuals on devices with front-facing cameras. Researchers Jeremie Francone and Lawrence Nigay have proved that with i3D [Free], a brand new app that is available on the App Store right now for the generous price of $0.

Is it a game? No. It’s a proof of concept that uses a device’s front camera to track a user’s head in order to trick their eyes into seeing 3D through ‘a small window.’ But while it has no use as a game, the overall tech shows promise as a middleware tool that could, maybe, grant more adventurous developers the ability to make their own 3D scenes.

The thought that Apple devices, or even other handhelds with front-facing cameras, could someday be able to spit out 3D — illusion or not — is an interesting one. Nintendo’s next generation portable, the Nintendo 3DS, is centered on its use of glasses-less 3D. If that hook were to become not so unique, what would be the point of picking up the device?

Zelda and the other gang of first-party games are always compelling reasons to side with a Nintendo product, of course, but without its hook, the 3DS is just a DS with a pricey screen, a charging cradle, and a better stylus.

Let’s say i3D’s tech actually becomes a big-time, licensed tool. What would that mean for developers on the Nintendo e-Shop? Would they even bother releasing their cool and unique games on the 3DS, or would they go to the App Store first?

If not, how quickly could we see ports of these titles land on the App Store at the service’s often rock-bottom prices?

We asked ourselves a similar, though non-3D specific question, upon learning that the e-Shop was delayed until later this June. You just have to wonder, given the history of Nintendo’s support of third-party and also the lackluster reception of its electronic stores, if the 3DS is the actual digital platform studios want to target. Or if it’ll just be a jumping off point like the PSP Minis initiative has proven to be.

Of course, the nuts and bolts of the 3DS’ 3D stuff and i3D are different and probably incompatible… but if i3D is as good as we think it is, then a studio could successfully translate its vision to Apple devices. Should be good for us, at least, presuming this stuff catches on.

[Via Mac Rumors]