Poppy Hands-On: Turn Your iPhone Into A Modern View-Master

The Fischer-Price View-Master has entertained generations of kids with stereoscopic views of famous landmarks and cartoon characters since its advent in 1939. The problem was these iconic gadgets could only display images, never record them. But the Poppy can. It turns your iPhone into a 3D camera.

The Poppy generates a pair of stereographic images from the iPhone's camera and recombines them into a 3D image when seen through the viewfinder. You just flip open the front end, slip your iPhone 4/4S/5 or iPod Touch into the slot on the top of the device and you're ready to go. And in addition to recording 3D content through the phone's camera, it can also be used to play back 3D content as well (such as the growing number of 3D trailers and user-generated content on YouTube).

I had the opportunity to sit down with Poppy co-creators, Ethan Lowry and Joe Heitzeberg, last week for a quick hands on ahead of the $50 product's Kickstarter launch and played with the Poppy for about 20 minutes. The device seemed a bit bulky at first blush, especially given that 3D content goes hand in hand with action sports — it's not like you're going to strap this to your face and try to land a triple frontside rodeo 1440. It was, however, surprisingly light and intuitive to use. The image quality for both recording and playback was solid (though that of course depends on your Internet connection and camera settings). The 3D playback feature is especially slick since it doesn't rely on (but can play) red-blue anaglyph 3D, which throws off the video's colour. On the downside, this is an iOS accessory as it's built around the iPhone's corner-mounted camera, so Android users are out of luck.

I would gladly take a guided video tour through famous locales or vicariously BASE jump from sky scrapers using the Poppy — at least until I finish growing that spare arm and leg the Oculus Rift is going to cost me.

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