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Inspiration Engine

What people really want is to be inspired.

To see things through the eyes of a child is an amazing thing. Everything is new and wondrous. Things like a day at the baseball park become awe-inspiring adventures. It's a really tremendous thing to be a parent and be so close to that awe and wonder at the world. I try to share in my little boy's excitement about the little things that make up our lives. Energy is contagious...

The really important thing that I've learned from my little boy is that there's no room for cynicism in life. Each day is a fresh start and a new opportunity to go out and experience life and make things happen out in the wide world. For me, it's also an opportunity to create value for readers of MVIS Blog and offer up my creativity and whatever insight I can into how the world may be changing and where we are in that process.

So, I'm really grateful for that lesson and happy to be able to share that little bit of my 'real life' with you.

The 3D Internet

An important thing that I realized reflecting back on the podcast I recorded last Thursday was that I have been maybe making my vision of the future of the internet a little more complex and potentially confusing than it needs to be. During the discussion of the 'geospatial metadata layer' I found myself explaining the term and what it really means and stumbled upon a far more elegant way to describe the same thing.

The analogy I used is that the next stage of growth of the internet will be powered by the addition of the third dimension, specifically depth. Depth is what will transform the internet. We can think of the internet now as basically a collection of flat, 2D pages that can be navigated around and clicked on in order to perform transactions, consume multimedia, read news stories, write blogs, and all the things we're used to doing in our daily lives.

Now, where the current 2D internet fails us is when we're out and about in the world, away from our desks with their stationary desktop machines and big LCD or CRT displays. Even though your phone can probably access the web while you're on the move, the web experience remains stuck in 2D space, even though you are not.

I've described before the really major limitations of the mobile web, including the small screen size, the lack of daylight readability, the necessity to look down at your handheld, thereby taking yourself out of the context of your activity, in order to consume the mobile web or have it perform any functions for you. This is the current paradigm. Lots of people walk around talking on their phones, but far fewer walk around consuming the mobile web since they are likely to walk into a lamppost or worse. The mobile web is indeed still stationary.

A couple posts below, and in the Thursday podcast from last week, I discuss how Google's entry into location-based contextual advertising represents a key mindset shift on behalf of the computing and communications industry. It is no longer enough to give you a map or some driving directions that you print out at your desk and carry with you while you travel. Now the web will travel with you. It will know where you are ('privacy' advocates commence freaking out here), it will know what your objectives are, and it will be there to offer you services and assistance to help you meet your goals.

Through the addition of information about users, locations and objects, the web achieves depth and is transformed into The 3D Internet. You heard it here first, maybe.

Now, doing a quick Google on 'The 3D Internet' reveals that you may have heard it elsewhere first. But, there's really a key distinction between what I'm talking about and what most of these links that reference that keyword are getting at. The existing links are talking about 3D models and virtual reality and immersion -- 'distance learning' and virtual 3D avatars and all that stuff. I am absoultely sure these things will happen and really impressive virtual reality will come online as part of the 3D Internet.

What I am talking about is the transformation of the web from a collection of 2D pages into services that we can interact with in real 3D space, like, you know, off the couch and into the world. This is what happens when things like Oracle Spatial and Java Location Services grow up and become a part of the standard back end that supports the next-generation of web services.

The term 'website' itself will become quaint with the advent of the 3D internet (reverting to preferred lower-case 'i' in 'internet' forthwith). Websites are specific locations themselves in cyberspace, defined by their URL. But in the 3D internet, your location is your location. You do not 'go to a website'. Web services accompany you where you go. They provide ancillary information that assists you in achieving your goals, like the book you want is 25% off in Barnes & Noble, so maybe you should pop in there, it's around the corner. Or, you just happen to be strolling past the BBQ restaurant that your friend Freddy recommended you visit a few months back. Or, 'at this site in 1776, The Battle of Moore's Creek Bridge was fought between North Carolina patriots and Scottish Loyalists'...

The 3D internet is about information that comes to you. It's there, in space, waiting for you to enter that space so that it can provide value for you, perform transactions on your behalf, connect you with people, help you learn, grow, become more engaged and active.

One of the other terms that really meshes nicely with the 3D internet is 'ambient intelligence'. I prefer this term to others such as 'pervasive computing' because it's more descriptive of a world where computers have disappeared and are still everywhere, ready to add value to our lives.

While you're reading this, take a look at your screen and appreciate for a moment just how flat it is. You can't live in that space because it's two-dimensional. It can't follow you where you go because you need to come to it and operate on the 2D internet's terms.

The addition of depth to the internet will allow location-based services to really blossom into something that becomes a really vital and necessary aspect of our time spent out in the world.

For reasons I've cataloged more than once on this blog, Microvision displays are uniquely suited to deliver this 3D internet content to mobile users. Nobody ever has to walk into a lamppost again trying to use the mobile web...


At April 11, 2006 at 6:21 AM Paul Medlock said...

This reminds me of the process of creating a virtual space in a computer game such as Doom. In a computer game, you want the space to interact with your avatar as you move it around. The game engine allows you to assign specific points in the space that will trigger specific actions. When the player's avatar intersects such a point, for example, a demon attacks.

Using GPS coordinates, you (or someone else) set up trigger points in the real world. You become the avatar in this game so that, as you move through such a point, it acts in a manner not unlike a URN (Universal Resource Name). The trigger point, together with your user id, associates with a set of information from the web that informs you.

I'm sure that other actions would be possible - such as causing a message to be sent to the police that you are trespassing.


At April 11, 2006 at 10:27 AM Ben said...

great comment. thx!


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