The 3DS doesn't have the mobile 3-D gaming market cornered, especially not if Hasbro's new My3D goggles have anything to say about it. And, oh yes, they have worlds to say. This iPhone accessory is a simple and affordable upgrade to the third dimension, and we can't say enough about how much sheer, silly-looking fun it is.
The My3D goggles are the first 3-D viewer accessory to leverage the processing power of an iPhone (or iPod Touch) to create immersive 3-D games. Inside the viewer, just like an old-school View-Master, a wall separates left- and right-eye images played side-by-side on the iDevice's screen to trick your brain into seeing depth. You stick your iOS device in the back of the goggles, and insert your thumbs through well-placed holes on the goggles' underside to reach the iOS gadget for touch controls like shooting or menu selection.
Staring at 3-D stills and movie trailers would be cute and all, but you can do that pretty much anywhere these days. Instead, My3D comes with seven custom apps that pull you into virtual worlds, like a tour-able pier in L.A. or the ocean depths inside a shark tank. Taking cues from the onboard accelerometer and compass the iDevices, twists and turns of your head change your view of whatever app you're in. Enemies approaching on the port side in the Asteroids-like Sector 17 game? Swivel to the right to avoid them or swing left to shoot them out of the sky. Sure, you might look a little (read: a lot) ridiculous from the outside, but it's sooo worth it. The 3-D effect is sometimes fairly subtle, but very well done, and the immersion the goggles provide is something totally new and very impressive.
Once you pop in some earbuds, you're more or less completely lost in the experience--something it's hard to say about other gaming systems, even the much-lauded Nintendo 3DS. Looking through the goggles takes up your entire field of vision, and adding sound seals you off completely. The whole package is simple, yet ingenious.
Okay, this isn't "bad" per se, more "annoying" than anything: There's no easy way to hop between apps, or even pause some of them in mid-game. Even though I, and the rest of PopSci HQ for that matter, could lose hours of my life shooting down alien invaders in Sector 17, if I decide I'd rather, I dunno, race a 3-D speedster, switching apps is kind of a pain. You have to undock the iPhone, find the app you want, launch it, then have to sit through whole "How to use your My3D" song and dance--again! It would be nice if there was a central My3D hub that you can access through the goggles, rather than having to hop in and out to change course. Also, the games are uneven--while Sector 17 and the you-are-the-shark game 360° Sharks are both insanely fun, some of the others are more like glorified tech demos.
$35 for the goggles plus seven app downloads (Sector 17 and Shatterstorm are only free until May 1).
It's so flabbergasting-ly simple that we have to wonder why something like the My3D hasn't existed before. So, yeah, it's about time. Though you have to make sure you're in a clear, obstacle-free space (I knocked over a water bottle or two turning to chase down dinner as a Great White in 360° Sharks), the my3D experience is one worth getting lost in.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.