Funded! This project was successfully funded on July 26, 2013.

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Poppy turns any iPhone into a 3D camera. Capture, view and share 3D video clips and photos, all in one inexpensive device.

What is it?

Poppy lets you capture and share the world the way you really experience it: in three dimensions. Have you ever wished you could record a moment, and share it so someone else could feel like they were there, too? Well, now you can.

Poppy is the first device in the world that turns an iPhone into a 3D camera capable of capturing, viewing and sharing full-motion, full-color video and stills in 3D.

How does it work?

Poppy works with iPhone 4, 4S, iPhone 5 and the fifth generation iPod Touch.  You put your phone in and Poppy’s mirrors capture two stereographic images using your iPhone’s single camera. 

When you look in the viewfinder, Poppy’s lenses combine the two video streams into a single, crisp, 3D video. It’s beautiful, and really hard to describe or show in two dimensions.

It doesn't need batteries and there are no electronics. It's just optics and your iPhone's camera and screen, so we can keep the price low without sacrificing quality.

Conceptualization of 3D stereo imaging
Conceptualization of 3D stereo imaging

Put your iPhone in Poppy and you can view 3D videos and photographs. Give it a twist, and you can capture your own experiences in 3D.

What can I do with Poppy?

Poppy is great for capturing events like weddings and for action sports, or for just playing with your kids in the backyard.  Images and videos captured with Poppy are immersive. Viewing feels like you're experiencing the original moment again!

There are other possibilities too, like real estate and architectural walk-throughs, science, education, augmented reality, art and more.

We've tested Poppy in a lot of situations, but we're most excited about the uses you'll discover for Poppy!

Explore the World in 3D via YouTube

You can use Poppy to watch tens of thousands of existing 3D videos on YouTube.

YouTube added support for 3D in 2009 and has since amassed a huge library of movie trailers, music videos, sports clips and user-generated content in 3D — and it all renders beautifully on Poppy.

3D videos on Poppy look much better than 3D content viewed using red/blue glasses. Since YouTube 3D uses the same stereographic image technology that Poppy does, their content plays back in beautiful, full-color, high definition 3D when viewed using Poppy.

When viewed with Poppy, YouTube's entire catalog of 3D content (movies, movie trailers, music videos and sports clips) renders in full-color, high quality 3D.
When viewed with Poppy, YouTube's entire catalog of 3D content (movies, movie trailers, music videos and sports clips) renders in full-color, high quality 3D.
Go surfing in Fiji...
Go surfing in Fiji...
Or experience what it's like to fly!
Or experience what it's like to fly!

3D Prints

You can take pictures with Poppy and have them printed so anyone can see them in 3D, without needing any extra device whatsoever.

You've probably seen this before in gift shops, movie posters or cereal boxes. The prints are coated with a thin layer of plastic lenses that makes it so the image shifts as you move the print. You can get a pretty strong 3D effect.

But what makes this interesting is that this will work with pictures of your own life -- your kids, your friends. 

We're looking into how we could incorporate this into our app, but at the very least we'll show how you could do this for yourself.

Wiggle GIFs, another way to share

You will also be able to make wiggle GIFs directly from Poppy's iPhone app.

Wiggle GIFs create the illusion of 3D on an ordinary screen. It's not the same as seeing in 3D with Poppy, but it's a cool effect.

Because Poppy captures a stereographic pair of images, it's relatively straightforward to create a wiggle GIF from a picture you take with Poppy. But we thought it would be better if we just built this right into Poppy's iPhone app.

Here is wiggle we put together using a 3D photo taken on Poppy.

View Vintage Stereograms

Stereoscopic photography has been around since the 1800's, and in fact millions of stereoscopic viewers were sold towards the end of the 19th century.

With Poppy, it's easy to view any stereoscopic photo in 3D.  We put together this short video to show you how:

Poppy makes a statement

It's sleek. It's a bit retro. It twists open. It's not pocketable, but it does make a statement. 

If you've got Poppy, get ready to hear this a lot: "that looks cool! What is that thing?"

David Crosby of Crosby, Stills and Nash.  Poppy would have been amazing at Woodstock.
David Crosby of Crosby, Stills and Nash. Poppy would have been amazing at Woodstock.

White Poppy

We hit our $150,000 stretch goal, so now Poppy will come in both a black and a white variety. We don't have a white prototype, but here are some renderings to give you a sense of what the White Poppy will look like when it's done.

So what do Poppy's pictures look like?

Because it takes a pair of images, and because Poppy's viewer magnifies your view, it's hard to appreciate what a video or photo actually looks like without having a Poppy.

But just to give you some idea, here is some 3D video footage shot with one of our prototypes. If you have a pair of red/blue glasses, you can watch this on any screen. Just click the 3D button below the video, choose "Other options" and then "Red / Cyan".

Here is a side-by-side image taken with Poppy.

And here is that same image converted to anaglyph 3D. If you have a pair of red/blue glasses, you can see this 3D effect on any screen.

Poppy's Inspiration

Have you ever seen stereographic images from the 1800’s? Or played with a Viewmaster? We love the feeling those simple devices give of stepping into another world. But they were all about seeing someone else's photographs.

Wouldn't it be so much better if you could create your own immersive 3D scenes like that -- but in full-motion video -- and share them with friends and around the world over the internet. That’s why we created Poppy.

Poppy brings stereographic imaging into the 21st century! Video! Retina!
Poppy brings stereographic imaging into the 21st century! Video! Retina!

The Poppy viewing experience is reminiscent of those Viewmasters you may have used as a kid — but so much more compelling as video and when it's content that you've created yourself.

What will you create with Poppy?
What will you create with Poppy?

The iPhone App

Since Poppy works by recording two stereographic images in your iPhone's single camera, any camera or video app you already use -- like Camera Plus or Vine -- will work with Poppy. Just put the iPhone in Poppy when you take the picture, and view the content with Poppy to see it in 3D.

However, to make things easier, we're creating a dedicated iOS app for Poppy. It will feature:

  • Capturing 3D videos and 3D still images
  • Saving photos and videos to your iPhone's photo album
  • Creating wiggle GIFs out of 3D still images
  • Uploading videos to YouTube
  • Browsing your own 3D content as well as 3D videos on YouTube
  • Easy controls and navigation for when your phone is in Poppy

Future Possibilities: Augmented Reality and Parallax Viewer

We're quite excited about the applications that Poppy enables in the area of real-time 3D image processing.  

Because of it's low-cost and the fact that it uses iPhone, developers will be able to create true 3D augmented reality and other 3D applications that use Poppy as a viewer.

Experimental analysis of Poppy 3D images to build depth maps useful in CAD modeling and interactive visualizations
Experimental analysis of Poppy 3D images to build depth maps useful in CAD modeling and interactive visualizations

Specifications and Technical Details

Poppy is flexible, and has inserts to accommodate the iPhone 5, 4S, 4 and even the fifth generation iPod Touch (the one with a camera). It's also designed with the future in mind. We want this to work with the next generation of phones as well, and we've left a little extra room in the device to make that possible.

With Poppy, a system of mirrors splits the field of view of the iPhone's camera, so that it capture two images at once. The mirrors are positioned eye-width apart (the "interpupilary distance") so that the images represent what is seen by the left and right eye, independently.

The viewer built into Poppy then isolates the images, so your right eye sees the image taken by the right mirror, and the left eye sees the left image. Your brain fuses the two images into a single, three dimensional scene. 

Once you have these two images, called a stereo pair, you can reconstruct the original three dimensional scene in number of ways. Anaglyph glasses (like the classic red/blue glasses) are one way. 

Peter testing Poppy footage with red/blue 3D glasses
Peter testing Poppy footage with red/blue 3D glasses

The polarized glasses used in IMAX or Real3D are another. 3D televisions often use glasses that actively present first an image to one eye, then the other. All of these are based around having a stereo pair like the ones generated using Poppy. 

So the videos and pictures you create with Poppy can be used anywhere you can see in 3D.

Poppy is made of rugged ABS plastic. It weighs less than a pound. Because it splits the camera's view, images taken with the device are half the size of your iPhone's typical photos and videos.

Our Progress

We've been iterating Poppy for more than six months, improving the optics and the housing to make Poppy work well and be easy and fun to use. We filed for a patent covering a number of innovations.

We started by designing the optics. The basic principle of using mirrors to split an image is pretty well understood, but getting it to work well with the particulars of the iPhone's camera took time. We worked with optical engineers to refine the design and get it right.

We laser cut a first prototype, put the iPhone in, and were delighted with the results (and a little surprised -- usually nothing works on the first try!).

From those initial cardboard tests, through 3D printed prototypes and now multiple factory iterations we have refined Poppy to something special.

Sketches of the design's evolution
Sketches of the design's evolution
The first cardboard prototype
The first cardboard prototype

We've worked with a factory in China with extensive experience in manufacturing consumer products for major brands. We've collaborated with our factory, working in person and on site to make sure our design is manufacturable, high quality and that it will be affordable. We've signed off on a final design and are now ready to proceed with the tooling phase (and that's where we need Kickstarter's help).

What's Next

The next step is to make the injection molding tooling. Carving solid blocks of steel into precision molds takes time, 6-8 weeks. Once we have the tooling, we will begin test production runs and should be able to move to full production by this Fall. Our production timeline looks like this:

  • July: Final pre-production prototype. This work is completed by our factory in China in conjunction with professional mechanical engineers and designers with experience in mass market consumer products manufacturing. We have also tested the pre-production prototype in the field and are satisfied with the usability and durability of the design. 
  • August: Injection molding tooling complete, first test. Our manufacturer has done work of similar or more challenging design for major consumer brands in the US and Europe. We have reviewed this timeline with 3rd party manufacturing service firms and are satisfied that the tooling milestone is reasonable and achievable. 
  • September: Final engineering prototypes, final packaging ready 
  • October: Production begins. Our manufacturer has a large facility capable of producing 10,000 units per week, if necessary, and a demonstrated track record of high quality production for major consumer brands in the US and Europe. 
  • November/December: Product transferred from factory, labeled, and shipped to backers' doors!

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

We've been working with fantastic advisors -- optical engineers, mechanical engineers, industrial designers, manufacturing specialists -- and we have enormous confidence in our choice for a factory partner. We also have a lot of experience making software products and companies. But manufacturing a physical product is hard.

We've been interviewing successful Kickstarter projects extensively for our blog, Hack Things (http://hackthings.com) to anticipate common problems and make sure we are prepared for the challenges.

Manufacturing: We've spent the past four months working with a large factory that has produced toys and other consumer products for major American brands. We will be at the factory when the first products come off the line, to monitor and test. We are very confident we can build Poppy at the quality we (and you) demand.

Ship Date: Our production timeline is based on reasonable estimates for the phases of this project, and was built in conjunction with the factory that will be doing the work and our manufacturing advisors. We've built in padding, and we'll do everything in our power to ship on time, but our first priority is product quality.

No matter what, we promise to keep all of our Kickstarter backers informed and involved as we go on this adventure!

FAQ

  • Poppy works with the iPhone 4, 4S, 5 and the 5th generation iPod Touch.

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  • We don't know what the iPhone 5S will look like (or even if it will be called the 5S!). But we've built Poppy with extra space, and we can accommodate many differences with a new insert even if the 5S diverges from the iPhone 5 design. We think Apple is unlikely to do anything that would make Poppy not work for their new phone. Still, we can't control Apple!

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  • For now, we're only working with the iPhone. Poppy is big enough to fit other devices (it's wide enough for the Samsung Galaxy S4), but the camera placement on many devices is different enough that we'll need to swap out a part to make the mirrors line up correctly. We're keeping a tally of how many people ask about this, though, so please let us know if you'd like to see Poppy for your phone. We'd love it to work for everyone!

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  • The distance between people's eyes varies from person to person, but Poppy's lenses have a fixed separation -- about 64mm. This is about the average, and Poppy's large lenses make it work for almost anyone. We've tested it with little kids and people with large faces, and it's worked well for all of them.

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  • No! This came as a total surprise to us. Contrary to what you may have thought, and certainly what we thought, in the 1950's 3D movies were watched using polarized glasses.

    Here's the classic photo from Life Magazine that has been doctored a million times to show red/blue glasses. http://life.time.com/culture/3-d-movies-thoughts-on-a-classic-life-photograph/#1

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  • After a huge internal debate on this one, it's Poppys.

    Corrected, thanks to everyone who pointed out that "Poppy's" is grammatically incorrect. Oops!

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  • Projects like ours benefit enormously from being on Kickstarter, and in turn we feel obliged to respect the rules of the platform. One of Kickstarter's rules is that they do not allow for purchasing multiple units - if you are interested, their thinking is set out in a series of blog posts, including this one: http://www.kickstarter.com/blog/kickstarter-is-not-a-store.

    However, you are welcome to create a second Kickstarter account and pledge for a second Poppy for friends, family, etc. And of course Poppy will have a life after Kickstarter, which we've already started preparing for. Shortly after our Kickstarter ends we'll be accepting pre-orders directly via our website.

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  • Yes! Keep your glasses on. We've tested while wearing glasses and they didn't even touch the rim while using Poppy. Poppy's viewer has large lenses and plenty of eye relief.

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  • Yes. Any standard camera strap will attach to Poppy. We've tested those commonly used with DSLRs.

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  • Yes. We've added a tripod mount to the bottom of every single Poppy.

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  • There are a few ways. First, you can reach your iPhone's screen while it's inside Poppy via some access holes on the bottom of the device. Secondly, the volume keys are accessible from the top of the device and we've reprogrammed them in our free iOS app to perform the function of navigating photos and toggling between capture modes.

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    HALL OF FAME. Thank you for helping make Poppy possible! You'll be included on all updates, and your name will be added to the Hall of Fame on our website.

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    RED/BLUE 3D GLASSES. We'll send you four pairs of classic, red/blue (anaglyph) 3D glasses so you and your friends can watch Poppy videos on ordinary smartphones and PCs. We'll also include you in the Hall of Fame. We appreciate your support for Poppy!

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    EARLY BIRD Thanks for being among the very first to back us! You'll get a Poppy from the first full production run, and we'll include you in the Hall of Fame.

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    POPPY You'll get a Poppy from the first full production run, and we'll include you in the Hall of Fame. Thank you!

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    WHITE POPPY It's just like the standard Poppy, but white with an aqua accent color! Like Poppy Plus, you'll also get a neck strap, and a microfiber bag (both with the Poppy logo). And we'll include you in the Hall of Fame.

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    POPPY PLUS You'll get a Poppy, a neck strap, and a microfiber bag (both with the Poppy logo). The neck strap is ideal for carrying Poppy when you are out and about, and the microfiber bag protects the clear lens and lets you keep it clean and dust free. Highly recommended. We'll also include you in the Hall of Fame!

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    PRE-PRODUCTION POPPY Be the first to receive your Poppy, and own a bit of history. We'll be producing test run Poppies before the full production run. We'll send you one of these test Poppies as soon as it comes off the line. Help us by testing and giving feedback we can incorporate into the final software. We'll also send you a production version of the Poppy, including the strap and microfiber bag. And we'll give you a place of top honor in the Hall of Fame.

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    3D PRINTED POPPY PROTOTYPE Get a piece of Poppy history: one of the original 3D printed functional prototypes! To test the optics and have something to experiment with, we made these in ABS plastic using a high-end Stratasys 3D printer. They work well, and have a very distinctive look. There are only a couple in existence, and we're selling them to help get Poppy off the ground. We'll also send you a production version of the Poppy, including the strap and microfiber bag. We'll send you a personal thank you, and give you a place of top honor in the Hall of Fame.

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    THE ORIGINAL FACTORY PROTOTYPE This is the original, pre-production factory prototype. There is only one in existence. Signed by the creators. This is the very unit that you see in our Kickstarter video and photos. It was made by hand and closely resembles what the injection-molded Poppy will look like. We’ll also send you a production version of the Poppy when they are ready, including the strap and a microfiber bag, and a special place in the Hall of Fame.

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