Scientists create world’s tiniest 3-D glasses to show bugs 3-D movies

BY Justin Scuiletti  April 25, 2014 at 5:40 PM EDT

Praying mantises are the only invertebrates known to possess 3-D vision, and researchers have found the perfect tool for studying how this vision works: miniature 3-D glasses.

The research team has created the world’s tiniest pair of 3-D glasses that they attach with beeswax to the mantises. With the glasses on, the insects are placed in front a monitor that displays computer-generated 3-D images in a method similar to how 3-D movies in theaters utilize displaced imagery to fool the human brain into thinking the image has depth.

A Giant Malaysian Shield Praying Mantis. Photo by Igor Siwanowicz/Barcroft Media/Getty Images

A Giant Malaysian Shield Praying Mantis. Photo by Igor Siwanowicz/Barcroft Media/Getty Images

Depending on how the mantis reacts to the images, the study may determine if mantises see moving objects standing out depth-wise in the same way that humans do. Researchers hope that information gained from the study will help them discover how three-dimensional vision evolved, as well as new ways to implement 3-D into future technology.

“If we find that the way mantises process 3-D vision is very different to the way humans do it,” said Dr. Vivek Nityananda, a research associate at Newcastle University, “then that could open up all kinds of possibilities to create much simpler algorithms for programming 3D vision into robots.”