3D viewer + The Elements for iPad = stereoscopic scienceporn


ipad3d.jpg Just got my Loreo Pixi 3D viewer with which to view those element detail shots in Theodore Gray's The Elements for iPad in 3D. Verdict: takes a little getting used to, for my eyes anyway, but after a minute of perceptual adjustment it quickly turned into HOLYCRAPTHISISSOAWESOME. You know what America (heck, the world, but especially America) needs to combat anti-science sentiment, and the dumbing down of our kids? Elegant presentations of science. Interactive digital reference book/game/search/apps like this, that make learning tantalizing. Imagine if you'd first been exposed to the periodic table of elements like this as a kid! I say this with excitement for the iPad and content soon to be developed for that platform, but also with excitement for the new class of competing devices that sill surely follow.

Read my earlier review of The Elements here ($13.99 for iPad, Touchpress), and you can buy the glasses here ($4.95 + S/H).


  1. It really does make you wonder why the new 3D TV systems require $400 glasses(not to mention the $3500 television and $400 3D DVD players) when there are convincing, cost-effective and perfectly good ways to watch things in 3D already. I hope people abandon this ‘cutting-edge’ quackery.

  2. You can get the same effect as these glasses if you’re able to train your eyes in the right way. Two ways to do it: parallel viewing (as used here) and cross-eyes (the images are swapped).

    Search Stare-e-o on Google.

    Great for objects like this, but no good for full screen video as you need to be able to show two images side by side.

    Modern 3D TVs use alternating images with synced glasses, more complex and more effective.

  3. Oh goody! I can now spend hundreds, even thousands of dollars to get an electronic version of a Mattel Viewmaster 3d. And even less practical and convenient too!

    Gosh. Life is so much fun with apples.

  4. This seems very, very nice. Reminds me of a Viewmaster!However, as I have sight in only one eye (childhood accident) I’ve never been able to take part in 3-D imagery. I’m not even a candidate for Lasik!

    It’s only slightly depressing to see the current explosion of 3-D television and cinema…but I will cheer on the technology from the wings

    1. Not me, Sigh Stone. I’m also of the one-eyed variety of human, and I vow to fight this “three dimensional” crap with all of my might. Live in 2D as I do, brothers and sisters! Throw off your corporate 3D overlords! Who’s with me?

    2. Hi just read through this and saw your comments, have you tried looking at 3d wobbly, wiggly gifs, sometime these are i believe able to purvey a sense of 3d to people who suffer from visual problems. neil

  5. Neal Stephenson has an essay from 1999 titled, “In the beginning was the Command Line” (see http://www.cryptonomicon.com/beginning.html)

    It’s really worth a read as it’s message is pretty timely for this whole debate. He goes to some extent to look at parallels between comptuers (OSs) and cars, which is a metaphor that’s come up here recently.

    Here’s a short excerpt where he’s talking about a friend’s old rusty, but fun MGB when he was growing up…

    In retrospect, this was telling me two things about people’s relationship to technology. One was that romance and image go a long way towards shaping their opinions. If you doubt it (and if you have a lot of spare time on your hands) just ask anyone who owns a Macintosh and who, on those grounds, imagines him- or herself to be a member of an oppressed minority group.

    The other, somewhat subtler point, was that interface is very important. Sure, the MGB was a lousy car in almost every way that counted: balky, unreliable, underpowered. But it was fun to drive. It was responsive. Every pebble on the road was felt in the bones, every nuance in the pavement transmitted instantly to the driver’s hands. He could listen to the engine and tell what was wrong with it. The steering responded immediately to commands from his hands. To us passengers it was a pointless exercise in going nowhere–about as interesting as peering over someone’s shoulder while he punches numbers into a spreadsheet. But to the driver it was an experience. For a short time he was extending his body and his senses into a larger realm, and doing things that he couldn’t do unassisted.

    Remember, he wrote this in 1999. And as someone who’s got an MG (Midget) he’s nailed why I love that car in all it’s tinkerer’s glory and things like the iPad and iPhone at the same time.

    1. OT: I don’t agree with your conclusion/analogy, but I do wish Neal would write more novels as good as that book. What a great novel. For whatever it is worth, I seriously doubt NS is an iPad lover; he seems more of an open source kind of guy to me (i.e. no limitations and freedom to all).

      1. Thanks kaffeen. I’m probably biased because I drive a little MG every day and his assessment of it was spot on :)

        1. but you can’t tinker with the iPhone or the iPad.
          you can just play with it, as is.
          U cannot MODIFY it at all.
          SO how is it like an MG?

          1. It’s fun to drive like an MG – that’s probably the biggest part.

            And the modifying? Being a programmer, I do that via writing software and web content that isn’t distinguishable from a standalone app. That and using the phone as a tool to “modify” my social space by posting live tweets recommending great restaurants, sharing pictures with my parents when on the road, etc.

            It also modifies me. It lets me do things anywhere and everywhere (there’s a signal) if I want to.

  6. Didn’t those old red plastic slidey-show things alredy do this? Like, layered photos that induce 3 dimenional depth? I mean it’s wicked an’ all that you can make your own 3d hoo-hah, but don’t try to convince me that it’s innovative. It’s just about time, is what it is, and frankly I won’t be satisfied until we have r2d2 3d laser video messages (I don’t even care care if it’s blue and static-y). I only just caught up to “Aliens” by having a video skype chat with a friend in Italy. I did think though that if I woke up in my pants, I wouldn’t answer a video call with the camera enabled. Even if it was an emergency, and someone in the ship needed me, that I didn’t want to see in my pants.

  7. funwithstuff at #2 is correct. Stereoscopic viewers are handy, but you can train your eyes to do the same thing. Remember those “Magic Eye” books from the 90s? I used a lot of stereoscopes looking at aerial photos in a geology class and eventually realized I didn’t need the viewers most of the time.

  8. These glasses are so much cooler than people may think at first. The amount and kind of stereoscopic images available are pretty darn cool. Vintage stereoscopy has left behind some incredibly vivid, if not color correct, views of the past.

    I don’t have the viewer or ipad but I am curious to know how well they work with existing stereoscopic galleries such as: http://www.stereoscopy.com/gallery/index.html some NSFW stuff.

    1. You can pan and zoom over stereo cards. Look at

      Peter Sky 3D

      Here’s the link (unless we’ve changed music again) –

      Peter’s video uses 14 stereocards and shows what can be
      done. The Loreo Pixi viewer works just fine with stereocard videos.


  9. At first glance (har) this kind of 3D seems sort of outdated – vintage and View-Master.

    But thinking about it, it’s about the most pure form of 3D you can do on a flat surface. No mixing of red/blue, no alternating frames for left and right eye. Just one picture for each eye.

    I guess better would be something literally like a View-Master that you hold up to your eyes, with a little LCD inside for each eye. Now that would be a cool hack…

  10. Xeni, you’re not genuinely suggesting the iPad should go into class rooms are you?

    It’ll cripple, hinder and retard those vibrant little minds. Choke all their dreams of C++ and destroy Linux-related fantasies that they all, no doubt, harbour deep within.


    1. J France, at work we’re exploring the idea of using them for kids with limited motor skills to do interactive learning excersizes.

      Take look at this neat dynamic keyboard for touch created by CanAssist –> http://www.canassist.ca/Dynamic%20Keyboard It could potentially work well for a person with limited mobility.

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