Books get the 3D treatment in South Korea

SEOUL Wed Mar 24, 2010 5:41pm EDT

SEOUL (Reuters) - Pop-up is so passe: South Korean scientists have developed 3D technology for books that makes characters literally leap off the page.

The popularity of 3D entertainment has been given a boost by a slew of recent films, including sci-fi blockbuster "Avatar" and Tim Burton's "Alice in Wonderland."

Several companies are also offering 3D televisions and a 3D video game console will launched soon.

At South Korea's Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology, researchers used 3D technology to animate two children's books of Korean folk tales, complete with writhing dragons and heroes bounding over mountains.

Pictures in the books have cues that trigger the 3D animation for readers wearing computer-screen goggles. As the reader turns and tilts the book, the 3D animation moves accordingly.

"It took us about three years to develop the software for this," said Kim Sang-cheol, the team leader of the project.

Kim said the technology could be used for any type of book and sees it eventually being used for images displayed over smart phones or at museums to enhance exhibits.

But those waiting for 3D books may have to wait long.

"It will take a while to market this technology to the general public," Kim said. He was not sure of the eventual price but thinks it will be affordable enough to be mass marketed.

(Reporting by Reuters TV and Christine Kim; writing by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Miral Fahmy)

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