The Eye-Plug may only add a 2-megapixel camera to Android smartphones, but don’t scoff at the little dongle. The $40 accessory, introduced at Computex, can add 3D functionality and refocusing capabilities — and therefore brings depth to simple smartphone images or video.
The Eye-Plug, created by Taiwanese startup Weeview, plugs into a smartphone’s USB port. Using the built-in camera for the main footage, the second perspective allows software to create video and stills with depth.
Even though the second camera is small with a low resolution, that extra data lets any Android smartphone with a USB port shoot in 3D or take photos that can be refocused later, similar to a light field camera. The 3D footage can then be viewed with Google Cardboard.
Because the camera plugs into a USB Type C port, it can be used with either the rear-facing camera or front-facing selfie camera.
Along with adding 3D and refocusing capability, the accessory can simply be used to add more depth of field to smartphone photos; because of the smaller sensor, phones aren’t typically able to produce out-of-focus backgrounds in-camera.
The lower resolution helps to keep the cost down, and since the Eye-Plug data is used only to add depth to the footage from the smartphone camera, those 2 megapixels appear sufficient, at least for the first launch anyway. The price roughly converts into $40.
The little camera measures roughly 20mm by 40mm — small enough to store on a key ring.
The product was introduced at Computex in Taipei. The developing company is just a ten-person startup, so the device is only currently available in Taiwan, but the Weeview is reportedly looking for international distributors.
Low resolution aside, the Eye-Plug looks like a neat smartphone accessory that can add unusual capabilities to an Android camera.