Imagine if you could give every photo and video you see depth, whether it’s a digital billboard at Times Square or the very pictures you store in your Camera Roll. Now you can, with $50, an iPhone, and a pair of glasses that look like Benjamin Franklin’s bifocals — thanks to Elsewhere.
Elsewhere is a new iOS app with a hardware component — a pair of spectacles “optimized for clarity” that you can attach to an iPhone 6, 6S, 7, and their Plus variants. The glasses are the tool that will help you see depth in videos, but there’s no tech in them. All the work is done in the Elsewhere app.
“In the real world, things have depth,” Aza Raskin, former creative lead for Firefox at Mozilla and co-founder of Elsewhere, tells Digital Trends. “When you record it, things become flat. Traditionally, to do any kind of VR or immersive 3D would require at least two cameras, a heavy rig, and a studio to set it up. We figured out a way based on a new understanding of how human perception works, in that we can add depth back into any video — not just into any video you take on your iPhone, but also into animated GIFs, any moving image.”
The app splits a video and puts them side-by-side, one for each eye — it’s similar to how videos are split for virtual reality content. The videos are rendered with Elsewhere’s depth information, which allows your brain to combine the two videos to create real-world depth when you wear the glasses.
So if you want to bask in the moment of yesterday’s night out, you can pull up the video in the app, attach the glasses to your iPhone, and start playing. The video will look more realistic, as though you were there. The downside with Elsewhere, though, is that you have to hold your phone and glass attachment up to your face — it’s no headset.
While you’re watching a video with the specs on, you can trigger actions via gestures on the phone screen. A swipe up, for example, will increase the 3D feature; a two finger pinch will let you zoom in or out.
The aforementioned feature is Elsewhere’s VR mode. AR mode is a little different, but it essentially lets you look through the iPhone camera to give depth to any video or image in the vicinity. Again, the downside is that you’ll have to continue holding the Elsewhere spectacles and your phone up to your head as you look around.
The AR mode also works with images — and Wendellen Li, co-founder of Elsewhere, says one use case is for viewing product images when online shopping. The glasses make the images look more realistic, giving a more impressionable idea of what the article of clothing looks like in real life.
The whole kit is $50, and you’re primarily paying for the app. The glasses will be shipped to you in two days time from the date of purchase, and it will include a QR code for a link to download the iOS app.