Tactile 3D and Some Thoughts

Tactile 3D

Tactile 3D is the next generation 3D desktop that aids in organizing your files and directories by allowing you to customize their position in a 3D space. All common file operations are supported. Welcome to cyberspace.

Think of Tactile as a 3D file explorer with the ability to organize in a 3D space by exploiting useful visual and audible cues. The design of the interface is based on our remarkable ability to recall the placement of a virtually unlimited number of stationary objects. Quick! Where's your camera? What drawer are your blue socks in? Tactile 3D effectively identifies files, directories, and drives by using various 3D models. Organizing your data in a more visual way alleviates the current necessity to remember cryptic file and path names to get what you want.

Many features of modern 2D desktops remind us that there isn't enough room to organize large numbers of files. Menus that pop up from nowhere and virtual desktops are indications that a better organizational construct is needed.

Tactile 3D corrects these deficiencies by improving upon traditional tree-based file system interfaces. It is more than a 3D replacement for your 2D desktop. It is an organization system for entire hierarchies of information. It will not try to take-over your current desktop and runs as a standard windows application. The desktop has had decades of development and any improvements need to integrate into that established and robust framework.

The Tactile 3D UI allows you to roam around a 3D space and place objects where you want. Each object gives clues as to its contents by emitting sounds and mapping thumbnails and icons onto certain faces. Other cues include a faster rotation rate for recently accessed content, different lighting for read-only files, and variation in collision sound effects based on file size.

Structurally Tactile 3D is a tree and allows you to explore your entire filesystem. You are able to enter various spaces like hard drives, removable media, and directories. The scale of the the space you enter depends on the number of files and other objects that must fit inside. The overall impression this leaves is one of exploring a vast virtual landscape, with each directory being a new world. It's difficult to describe; so simply try it for yourself.

It's going to take an understanding of new ways to interact with and explore data in order to for persistent consumer augmented reality to take flight. New interfaces that exploit new metaphors beyond the Windows desktop will be required to make sense of a fully 3D, mobile and interactive computing environment. I'm really interested to see cool new applications for managing data beyond dealing with the really unintuitive folder/file metaphor.

I think people have a hard time comprehending that the world that they see is going to change -- and is changing at that very moment. People get attached to things. They like their flip phone, they like their computers (but Windows 'blue screen of death' I think people will be happy to move past), they like their safe, comfortable world of the known and understood.

I think younger people who have really been immersed in extremely rapid technological progress have a better handle on how things are changing. They intuitively understand exponential growth and change and have seen how it has had an impact on their lives. They embrace change as vital and necessary.

Connections between people through technology are presently limited to audio virtual reality (phone calls), instant messaging with tiny 'avatar' images that are supposed to represent each person you're in contact with (I usually alternate between a bengal tiger, Geddy Lee and Bill Belichick), and relatively rarely used and still clumsy video conferencing.

But that's going to change. There's no reason why in five years I won't be able to sit in my living room and see a lifelike virtual representation of my father sitting in the room with me, even though he may live thousands of miles away. Microvision color eyewear will be able to superimpose high-resolution images on my field of view to give me an information overlay, perform 'virtual reality networking' with friends, family and business contacts -- even the computer interfaces will take on virtual reality elements, represented well by Tactile 3D.

By 2010, computing resources will likely be grid-based with small client machines that send calls to grids of supercomputers to perform processing and then return results to user. These grid clients will allow regular consumers to have access to the same power of computing that's used in long range weather forecasting and nuclear explosion simulations. Plenty enough horsepower to drive a fully convincing 3D model of any human being, or virtual environment to your Microvision eyewear.

In a world of 3D computing, the key advantages of Microvision's platform are really amplified. There's no physical screen. There's just virtual images and your regular field of view. There's less power consumption as there's no backlight to power.

The ability to provide an immersive digital display without any physical screen opens up new worlds in design and device form factors. The digital world stops being flat. It starts becoming 3D.

I've written a lot about how the internet is going geospatial and I really believe that. Every day you hear about a new cell phone company that is GPS-enabling their products and planning to deliver location based services.

“Location based services, such as navigation and point-of-interest search for hotels and restaurants are becoming increasingly popular with consumers,” says Aage Snorgaard, Senior Vice President, Mobile Phones, Nokia. “With the introduction of the Nokia GPS Module LD-3W and through our collaborations with navigation industry players such as Wayfinder and Telmap, we offer a compelling range of location based services to the tens of millions of consumers who have one of our highly popular mid-range models, such as the Nokia 6230i or the Nokia 6280.”

And here's a very interesting PR from RFMD.

I believe that powerful, inexorable forces are converging in the near future to drive Microvision-inside devices into the hands of hundreds of millions of consumers around the world. When you really think about where personal electronics and communications devices are going, really what are the alternatives? Rollup, flexible screens? Well, maybe. That's kind of neat. But you just can't escape from that one element. There's a physical screen with specific dimensions, with so many pixels and so much real estate in the physical world to occupy, when unfurled. And it's not exactly a private, personal viewing experience.

The only concept that really makes sense, as far as devices to really unlock the content, consumer experience and profit potential of next generation networks, is Microvision eyewear with full color high-resolution displays that go from see-through augmented reality to occluded virtual reality as requested by the user.

We have new management imported from GE. We have new focus and are putting resources behind building a single, unified platform that can be embedded in any device that requires a video output to a user. The light sources are coming online. The electronics capabilities have never been better, and they've never accelerated at a faster rate than they do right now. This is the time when it all comes together.

Everything that MVIS longs have dreamed about for years is in sight, and is closer than it has ever been. But it's not just a dream anymore.

It is an operating plan.