Japan's FujiFilm is planning to add a new dimension to photography this year: the third dimension.

In the battle to differentiate its products in the competitive digital camera market, the Japanese camera maker has been developing a model that features two identical lenses and image sensors. It snaps almost-identical images that are blended together by a custom chip to produce a 3D image, it said.

The system has been dubbed Real 3D by FujiFilm and can be used for both still images and movies.

There have been attempts to introduce 3D photography in the past but a complicated set-up and reliance on 3D glasses has meant they're too complicated for widespread use.

FujiFilm's system makes use of a 2.8-inch 3D LCD panel on the rear of the prototype camera so viewers don't need special glasses. For display of images the company has also come up with a prototype 3D photo frame that has an 8.4-inch display.

Aside from 3D images, the company imagines a camera with two lenses and image sensors could provide some other clever tricks such as the ability to shoot a wide and telephoto shot at the same time, or for a wide panorama shot by capturing half with each lens.

The prototype 3D camera first appeared at last year's Photokina show in Germany and recently made an appearance a the PMA show in the U.S. and Tokyo's Photo Imaging Expo. It's next step will be onto store shelves. FujiFilm plans to launch its first 3D camera in Japan later this year.

The company sees a bright future in the technology, the aim of which is to capture pictures that are almost as good as the real thing. Whether it takes off or not depends on consumers but this is one technology you want to keep both eyes on.