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Through the Looking Glass April 1, 2004

Posted by Lee Cherry in Uncategorized.
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Through the Looking Glass
What if windows were translucent so that you could see the multiple windows you’re working on at the same time? What if you could tack a note to yourself right on the Web page you’re viewing? What if your CD or movie database became a 3D jukebox, where titles were joined with images to make finding what you want easier than ever?

This teaser leads further into an ongoing development of a new way to imagine your desktop. Where one isn’t just confined to a 2D plane.

This is the sort of thing my senior design studio was ‘fooling’ around with back at NCSU College of Design (1996).

In a cooperative classroom that combined computer science and design senior/graduate level students we we able to do some serious ‘goofing off’ with different methods of interface and interaction design. We developed concepts dealing with layered/transparent information, data blobs, information spheres, image cubes and desktops within desktops. This included literal 3D representions of working environments (cube-land on acid). We even had a chance to work with Futurist, Syd Mead and Author, Bruce Sterling on a side project about the internet.

Both Apple and nVidia took some incremental steps in developing new concepts to working within the desktop environment but still didn’t quite push the boundaries. This sort of environment can be ‘faked’ in a Flash MX environment (using 2d panes carrying other SWF movies) but still doesn’t quite fit the model – unless Flash MX moves into the desktop operating system, which is quite possible since they are targeting their system as a kickin’ development tool that’s been positioned against M$ IDEs (but I digress).

Sun has been quiet lately, with only a few press releases since the initial launch but it’s exciting to see a large company seriously sinking in some capital (both money and intellectual) in developing a new way to interact with documents and software. Something this different, not to mention difficult, can only happen from the ground up at the OS level and not as a third party window dressing… Check out the demonstration here.


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