About this project
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.
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.
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?"
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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
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!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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