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Apple's 3D Desktop Patent Filing Examined

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  • I love 3D (Score:4, Interesting)

    by alain94040 (785132) * on Friday December 12, 2008 @12:55PM (#26092995) Homepage

    Not surprising if you look at the 3D effects that Apple put into Time Machine and the document stack. I love these.

    What will make this really interesting is the navigation itself: since Apple is about to get rid of all buttons on the trackpad (and mouse?), I'm wondering if they have thought of some fancy 3 or 4-finger gestures to move around in 3D. I can think of some games that could use that.

    The first time I saw the idea of 3D navigation for the desktop was when Hypercard came out (was that 10, 15 years ago?). Someone came up with this concept of a house where you'd store various things. In the basement would be the backups. On the desk in the office would be the open documents, etc. You'd just walk around your house in what (at the time) felt like 3D.

    --
    http://fairsoftware.net/ [fairsoftware.net] -- where software developers share revenue from the apps they create

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Tjp($)pjT (266360)
        I preferred the hack Bubba [com.com]. Reportedly put together in 1 day by some non-MS VB programmer. Versus a dev team at MSFT for a full dev cycle. Bob is long gone, but Bubba lives on. Apparently even working on Vista. And APPL had there 3D experiment back in the 90's as well. I spaced on the code-name for the public beta but maybe Tabasco. Although that was a internal printer project as well. And there was "Ark Interface" as well.
      • its more like the (c)2003 sun demo http://www.sun.com/software/looking_glass/media/k5_media.jsp#lg1 [sun.com] *years* before leopard.
    • Re:I love 3D (Score:5, Insightful)

      by avandesande (143899) on Friday December 12, 2008 @01:00PM (#26093085) Journal

      The problem is that your monitor is still in two dimensions- so what benefit do you get with a 3d interface that you constantly need to translate back in to 2 dimensions?

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Tubal-Cain (1289912) *
        Who said the interface that will accompany this 3D desktop will be 2D?
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by ColdWetDog (752185)

          Who said the interface that will accompany this 3D desktop will be 2D?

          You think the next iteration of the MacBook is going to be a giant cube? Or a sphere perhaps?

          I don't know about you, but I'm not putting any stupid cube or sphere in my backpack, thankyouverymuch.

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by Tubal-Cain (1289912) *
            It doesn't need to be a giant cube or sphere. All we need to do is harness the power of the Reality Distortion Field to travel to the Star Trek universe and bring back some holoemitters.
            • holoemitters....

              Sounds vaguely NSFW. Or at least something I wouldn't necessarily want in my backpack.
              • by d3ac0n (715594)

                holoemitters....

                Sounds vaguely NSFW. Or at least something I wouldn't necessarily want in my backpack.

                No, you're thinking of a similar product from the "slashfiction" Star Trek universe, the pornoemitters.

          • by initialE (758110) on Friday December 12, 2008 @02:08PM (#26094067)

            But the directions clearly said not to taunt super fun ball.

          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by Anonymous Coward

            uh...hello...helmet???

            • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

              by Tubal-Cain (1289912) *
              Technically, a helmet would still be a 2D interface... Although accelerometers and such to keep track of head movement/orientation could make a reasonable approximation.
          • "Hey, that sphere's a cube!" -- Gene Ray
          • by tyrione (134248)

            Who said the interface that will accompany this 3D desktop will be 2D?

            You think the next iteration of the MacBook is going to be a giant cube? Or a sphere perhaps? I don't know about you, but I'm not putting any stupid cube or sphere in my backpack, thankyouverymuch.

            I think the parent poster is fantasizing on a holographic projection touch display.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by coppro (1143801)
          If you RTFP (Read The F***ing Patent) (TM and Copyright (C) 2008 "coppro"), then you would see that it requires a "viewing surface", limiting the patent to a 2-D desktop environment. Also, my interpretation is that things can't hang in the middle, but I'm not nearly as sure about that (it's patent language, and the diagrams aren't loading).
      • There are various technologies that use a combination of screens and glasses to create a stereoscopic 3d effect. They're pretty cool.

        Most prevalent is some form of polarization; either building the screen to display two differently polarized pictures (filtered by the glasses) or rapidly switching between two images while alternating the polarization of the glasses synchronously. And then, of course, there's the age-old trick of mixing stereoscopic images in two different color channels and filtering them wi

        • Re:I love 3D (Score:4, Informative)

          by fprintf (82740) on Friday December 12, 2008 @01:36PM (#26093611) Journal

          They'll need to solve the motion sickness problem for some people first. I got quite sick at a 3D IMAX production, I think called "Deep Sea" a number of years ago. They had these big polarized goggles that would sit on your head and you would get a 3D effect from looking around. The problem was, as far as I could tell, was that any movement in 3 dimensional space was not accompanies by movement of the inner ear. So my eyes were thinking I was moving along the sea floor, but ears said "no way". I ended up taking them off and watching the movie in 3D. I was OK by the end of the movie.

          Second experience was riding on the Aladdin carpet ride at Disney World/EPCOT in Florida. I believe this is the virtual ride developed by Randy Pausch of Carnegie Mellon, the guy that gave that great speech when he got cancer. I got really sick on this one, in fact ended up puking after the ride. It was similar, one part of my brain said that I was moving in space but other parts said "no way". I am a sailor and was training to be a pilot, and hadn't been seasick in years... but this ride made me hot, sweaty and eventually pukey. Nastiest experience I have had in years.

          I am assuming that the display, if just used for navigation, won't have a lot of movement that might induce motion sickness. After all, I can look around in space now without a problem, changing focus on things near and far, looking from right to left etc. So maybe it won't be any kind of problem. I can tell you I won't be a first adopter though! Blech!

          • by fprintf (82740)

            Stupid, reply to myself. First paragraph, I watched the movie in 2D. It was a little fuzzy but nothing like watching the old time 3D movies w/ the blue/red tinted glasses!

          • I think the desktop would be less overwhelming because there is not as much action...

            But you definitely can't count on it being less bad just because the screen isn't as big as that of a movie theater - refer to Mirror's Edge.

          • Same here. I took the kids there and had to stare at the floor during the 'rides'. Instant motion sickness.

          • They'll need to solve the motion sickness problem

            You're getting motion sick because your body isn't doing what your eyes say they are doing.

            The good money is on single-user 3D interfaces that track the eyes to generate 3D on a 2D screen, so it's exactly the opposite.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by jdevivre (923797)

        The problem is that your monitor is still in two dimensions- so what benefit do you get with a 3d interface that you constantly need to translate back in to 2 dimensions?

        I don't completely disagree with you, but you must consider that what we meat-spacers generally experience *visually* as 3-dimensions is actually just a stereoscopic 2D image. Tie you to a chair with your arms bound, and that's really all there is to experience.

        I wear glasses that are smaller than my visual range, thus a ring of blur constitutes my peripheral vision. I am, if you would entertain it a moment, viewing the world through a "screen". The fact that objects at distance "react" 3-dimensionally

      • Re:I love 3D (Score:4, Insightful)

        by diegocgteleline.es (653730) on Friday December 12, 2008 @01:44PM (#26093701)

        The same benefit you get from running a 3D game instead of a 2D one.

        The fact is, desktop has never been 2D. It has always been 3D. The shadows under a button that make it look pushed or not are a 3d effect, even if it's implemented as a black shadow in a bitmap.

        You can have top or botton windows. That's 3D aswell.

        3D desktops will not be about having a "3D room" in your desktop. They will be normal desktops just like they're today. The difference will be that instead of drawing a bitmap with a black line to make a button look like it's pressed, you'll have a 3D engine and the toolkit will tell the 3D engine: "move the button x pixel in depth" - and the engine will move the button and will draw the shadows according to the surrounding objects.

        IOW, you'll have a 3d engine powering your desktop, managing not just your windows (beryl can do that today), but also your widgets. Or icons. Icons won't be just a 2d bitmap/vector image, they will be a 3d object that will react to events with all kind of 3D effects - rotation, lighting, jumping, smoke...whatever

        As expected, it seems that Apple has the lead. It's a shame that nobody in Linux is doing something similar. It's an oportunity to take lead in the desktop.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by DittoBox (978894)

          As expected, it seems that Apple has the lead.

          I agree with your post for the most part but Apple isn't leading here:
          http://bumptop.com/ [bumptop.com]
          http://www.sun.com/software/looking_glass/ [sun.com]

          They may "lead" in bringing something like this to the market quicker (like they did with desktop composition) but they didn't invent this stuff. Certainly not patent worthy.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by mhall119 (1035984)

          It's a shame that nobody in Linux is doing something similar. It's an oportunity to take lead in the desktop.

          Sun's Project Looking Glass has been running on Linux for about 3 years now. The hard part is not the 3D effects, but coming up with a way of making it usable. If Apple has figured that part out, I expect it will be copied by everyone else in short order.

        • The problem is the keyboards.

          When I was using a sparcstation in the late 80s, the keyboards had "front" and "back" buttons, to move windows front and back. It was great, because you could focus on a window that wasn't in the forefront or could cycle through a subset of windows based on mouse position.

          Any keyboards have front and back buttons? Do current window managers know what to do with them?

          • Why don't you just write 'front' and 'back' on a couple of your function keys and then bind those keys to cycling the windows? I'm pretty sure there are built in options for that in stuff like Metacity - and no matter the OS or window manager, you could always write an app or plugin to do the same thing. Personally I am happy with a combination of alt-tab and multiple desktops - I like to group different applications on different windows rather than have to cycle through everything to get to a specific app.

      • so what benefit do you get with a 3d interface that you constantly need to translate back in to 2 dimensions?

        3D first person shooters are immensely popular. The benefit is that the game is more realistic.

        A 3D desktop is probably supposed to be more realistic. Realistic of what though? I don't know. Hopefully not my desk at work because then it would just be a mess.

        Whether or not a 3D anything will be very useful remains to be seen but mapping it back to a 2D screen doesn't invalidate it completely.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by greg_barton (5551)

        The problem is that your monitor is still in two dimensions- so what benefit do you get with a 3d interface that you constantly need to translate back in to 2 dimensions?

        I hate to break it to ya, but your retina is 2d interface. We seem to get along fine with it ina 3d world. :)

      • People are way too worked up over this in regards to functionality, IMHO. It's just some 3D eyecandy over the top of a basic virtual desktop setup. Don't a number of OSS window managers offer 3D cube styled virtual desktop environments already? Most of them map to the outside of a cube this one just maps to the inside.

        I am hopeful this fixes the dock. Apple made the dock a lot less useful with 10.5, stacks being the most useless "innovation." By adding some depth to the stack it might become useful.

        On t

        • Re:Settle Down (Score:4, Interesting)

          by DittoBox (978894) on Friday December 12, 2008 @02:45PM (#26094587) Homepage

          I think more realism in metaphor implementation would definitely help people crossover to computers easier. File organization, menus and multiple windows are a tough one for most folks. Being able to understand how three dimensional physics affects pieces of paper (documents), photographs, application windows (needs a good metaphor that doesn't conflict with paper documents) and folders for keeping it all in will help a lot of people who can't grok it as is.

          A lot of people bitch and moan about "terrible eye-candy". It might slow you down some, but for a lot of people visual hints and metaphors are the only way to understand this stuff.

          Work in any kind of design field for a while and you start to appreciate how simple visual hints help or hinder people. Being able to intuitively grok the way anything from a toaster to a can opener to an operating system works without having to really think about it is a Good Thing.

          I agree though, you shouldn't be able to patent a metaphor, an algorithm or an analogy. It's just dumb.

          • application windows (needs a good metaphor that doesn't conflict with paper documents)

            How about.. windows?

        • by anagama (611277)

          Don't a number of OSS window managers offer 3D cube styled virtual desktop environments already? Most of them map to the outside of a cube this one just maps to the inside.

          You can also map to the inside of the cube if you want to.

        • by Molochi (555357)

          Pretty much any current hardware, even something using Intel graphics, has had the ability to adequately hardware accelerate simple 3D for a while, and anything with an Nvidia or AMD/Ati chipset (VIA Chrome? not sure) can do more advanced stuff like programmable shaders. I think there's the capability, at least, to add some nice (possibly even useful) eyecandy that wouldn't bog down the system.

          This would probably cause a ruckus amongst the mac users stuck with older intel integrated graphics unless they're

      • by TeknoHog (164938)

        The problem is that your eyes are only 2D surfaces. Having two of them doesn't give you a full 3D perception -- you'd have to see through things to do that.

        Thus it should be possible to fake our limited perception by using two 2D displays and head tracking. It's the same thing with hearing, you only have 2 ears instead of 5.1, but again you'd need head tracking.

      • by pizzach (1011925)
        While you have a point, over-simplification is not good either. Drop shadows make it easier to distinguish which windows are in front of other windows, usually making computing a little bit easier on the eyes. Did you notice that I inadvertently used terms about being 3d to describe why 2d drop shadows are nice? Shadows are usually reserved for 3d objects is a 3d space, but yet on a 2d monitor they are enjoyable and useful. I don't think that drop shadows are the only technique that could be useful on a
    • by nasch (598556)

      The first time I saw the idea of 3D navigation for the desktop was when Hypercard came out (was that 10, 15 years ago?).

      HyperCard [wikipedia.org] came out 21 years ago.

    • They did not get rid of the buttons on trackpad, they added more. You now have 2 buttons on the trackpad for left and right click. They are just not "proper" buttons, more like an area on the trackpad that can get depressed when pressure is applied and the make a clicking sound.

    • by aliquis (678370)

      I'm wondering if they have thought of some fancy 3 or 4-finger gestures to move around in 3D. I can think of some games that could use that.

      I guess this is the time for me to patent / claim prior art (idea) of a special "track sponge" tracking movement in 3D space of a special "fat finger."

      I was thinking about fat finger tracking on current track pads but immediately understood that it wouldn't work very good for navigation in 3D space.

      And yes, using three fingers for forward/back/strafe and then two + clicking left finger for fire would be quite cool :D, it's a mouse without the mouse! :D
      And if you started to move the middle finger vertically

  • Why is I always think about stuff and see them years later patented by some company... like dimming backlight with a photoresistor... oh well, if only they would do the other things I thought of, like real SMP laptops so you could power down cpus to save battery...

    First post ?
    • No need to play lottery today I guess :D
    • Heh, reminds me of this Seinfeld excerpt:

      KRAMER: Look at this, they are redoing the Cloud Club.

      JERRY: Oh, that restaurant on top of the Chrysler building? Yeah, that's a good idea.

      KRAMER: Of course it's a good idea, it's my idea. I conceived this whole project two years ago.

      JERRY: Which part? The renovating the restaurant you don't own part or spending the two hundred million you don't have part?

  • 3D "effects" on a 2D interface is patentable. Pull the other one.

    Another instance of the patent system gone mad.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by TyFoN (12980)

      Well at least there is a ton of prior art like compiz etc.
      I remember in the end of the 90's at an oil company i worked for,
      we had 3-4 SGI machines that used an array of projectors to create
      a 3d world for the engineers to explore the ground. You used a glove
      and cloud pull apart the different geological layers and pull down
      menus with your hand.
      The US patent system is def. screwed if they pass something like this.

      • It sounds to me like your old employer used a different method. That makes them two different, patentable approaches to the same problem. Perfectly acceptable to any patent office. You don't patent what you did, but how you did it. Look at the hundreds of patents for mouse traps.
  • by jvd (874741) <albert DOT valentin AT gmail DOT com> on Friday December 12, 2008 @01:02PM (#26093121)

    This clearly shows that the patent system is broken. Sun have been working on a 3D Desktop since the early 2000s.

    More info: http://www.sun.com/software/looking_glass/ [sun.com]

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Tubal-Cain (1289912) *
      And we have had the Spinning Cube for a while now.
    • by intrico (100334)

      I would not say that this filing itself shows that the system is broken, since the filing has not yet been approved. If the filing does get approved, however, then that would clearly indicate a broken system. Not that the patent system has not already previously been clearly shown to be broken, though, due to the countless other obvious/ridiculous patents that have actually been approved to date.

    • by CajunArson (465943) on Friday December 12, 2008 @01:17PM (#26093357) Journal

      That's like saying that since cars have existed for over 100 years it is impossible to get a patent on a new development for a car.
      Looking at the claims, this patent is (unsurprisingly) not trying to claim the use of 3-D technology in a computer GUI. Instead, look at independent claim 1:

      1. A graphical user interface, comprising:a viewing surface;a back surface axially disposed from the viewing surface to define a depth;one or more side surfaces extending from the back surface to the viewing surface;a visualization object receptacle disposed on one or more of the side surfaces; and one or more visualization objects disposed within the visualization object receptacle, the one or more visualization objects corresponding to one or more system objects.

            The Apple application is for the use of a room-like setting where there is organization of visual elements along the "floor", "walls", and "ceiling" of the room. This is definitely different than looking glass, about the closest thing I've seen would be a demo from Qt on a Wolfenstein + desktop elements interface: see video here [trolltech.com]. However, it is unclear if the Wolfenstein demo actually anticipates the claims of this patent on two grounds: 1. the use of a static room could be different enough from the use of a maze, and the Wolfenstein demo does not stack & arrange elements like Apple is claiming) and 2. The Apple invention likely predates the WolfQt code.
          Additionally, as is often the case with Slashdot, the readers do not understand the difference between a granted patent and a patent application. This is ONLY an application, and as any patent practitioner knows, what you originally apply for is often much different than what you eventually get granted as a patent.

            Finally, before everyone in here panics that Linux will be illegal in 2 weeks or some other nonsense, just look at the subject matter that Apple is patenting: It's a stupid room with windows pasted on the wall! Who cares!! Even if Apple gets the patent, just don't go out and copy them and you'll be fine. The attitude of panic on here is actually indicative of a deeper fear. It's not that patents "stifle innovation", but instead that patents mean you can't just make a direct knock-off of some other UI which is what really freaks some people out.

      • by waveclaw (43274)

        The Apple application is for the use of a room-like setting where there is organization of visual elements along the "floor", "walls", and "ceiling" of the room. This is definitely different than looking glass

        Not looking glass, but it does resemble one computing horror I remember.

        Microsoft Bob.

        Apple's huge graphics design and industrial engineering efforts could polish poop to the point people would pay to just put it on their shelf. As cool as the bumptop desktop demo and compiz are, showing that 3d UI on

    • by clampolo (1159617)

      Well those clowns already granted Apple patents for certain hand gestures. Soon they will start allowing Jobs to patent jacking off techniques too.

    • by Ilgaz (86384)

      I couldn't test it (I am on PPC) but I tested near everything claiming 3D concept of interface even including the Linux ones I built from source.

      If Apple is the company which made a Mach/NeXT/FreeBSD/BSD Lite and even MacOS mixture "easiest used Desktop ever", I wonder if they would be the ones to make a really usable 3d desktop.

      There is another patent from Apple about gestures being done without touching the screen surface. It was a story recently. When you mix both, something promising may happen.

  • by jellomizer (103300) on Friday December 12, 2008 @01:05PM (#26093179)

    This may not yield to a product. It is just a Patent. So if apple does come up with a 3D desktop no one else can sue them stating it is theirs. 3D computing has been in peoples imaginations for years. Remember Star Wars Ep. 4 back in the 1970's.
    We may get a real 3d interface in January but probably 5-10 years down the line as Human Interface interaction has gotten more advanced and intuitive vs. the old mouse method. Gestures, and better ways of tracking your hand have made 3d Manipulation more feasible.

    • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

      by X0563511 (793323)

      This may not yield to a product. It is just a Patent. So if apple does come up with a 3D desktop no one else can sue them stating it is theirs.

      And anyone else who might come up with it in the event that Apple fails... is fucked, and by extension we all are (because the only one who can, is the one who didn't).

      Don't patent it till you have it, assholes!

      • A company can always purchase the Patent from Apple. Also a lot of companies have agreed to share patents. It is really fascinating all the stuff you can do if you have money.

    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Remember Star Wars Ep. 4 back in the 1970's.

      That would be impossible. There was no Episode 4 in the 70's, just Star Wars.

      Yes, I'm being a dick for amusement rather than actual irritation. If you had called it "A New Hope", then I would have cared a little because it's such a lame title compared with the original.

  • ...prior art = Bump Top 3D desktop?
    • I watched the video on the Bump Top 3D desktop. I thought the lasso technique was useful. I am really lazy about putting my documents away or saving them in the file I created or my documents file. They usually just sit on the desktop until I decide to sort them out when I have time.

      I think someone said they thought it wasn't a very functional idea, and it was eye candy. For someone like me it is functional because of how I save my documents because I just got in the lazy way of saving them to my des
    • Here's a video [youtube.com] and a link for those who don't know.
    • SphereXP is another 3D desktop that comes to mind as prior art.
  • 3D (Score:2, Informative)

    by mcgrew (92797) *

    So the new Apples will have holographic displays? If not, it isn't 3D, it's perspective [wikipedia.org] .

  • linux got it first, wooosh!!!

  • Prior art? (Score:2, Informative)

    by danhm (762237)
    That sure sounds a lot like Sun's Project Looking Glass [java.net].
  • In some implementations, a stack item 400 can include visualization objects related to multiple monitors. For example, if a monitor in a dual monitor user environment is disabled, the corresponding visualization objects displayed on the disabled monitor can collapse into a monitor stack on the remaining monitor.

    I get the feeling they haven't fully considered the use of multiple displays under this interface, this being the only paragraph even mentioning them.

    E.g. if each display is a walled-off tube, how do

  • Am I crazy, or is this an unskeptical report of Apple attempting to get a software patent?

    Knowing Steve Jobs this is unlikely to be a defensive patent, either. He may actually expect to be able to sue people to stop writing software that seems like his software.

    How sleazy. How ridiculous.

    You cannot patent software. Period.

    People who pretend we can are con men and shakedown artists.

    I don't care if it's GIF compression or one click buying or a goddamned 4D desktop. It can not be patented.

    You only have one cho

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      I don't care if it's GIF compression or one click buying or a goddamned 4D desktop. It can not be patented.

      I'm very interested in this 4D desktop you mention. A desktop that lets you operate in three dimensions and travel through time. Awesome!

    • You cannot patent software. Period. People who pretend we can are con men and shakedown artists.

      ... or Supreme Court Justices. Fortunately, we have your superior experience, wisdom, and jurisprudence to lead the way. Thanks, psuedonymous Slashdot user!

    • by jbolden (176878)

      Obviously software patents are terrible. Apple generally patents stuff they are working on and they have spent billions on 3D technology, and a long history of innovation so there is no reason to believe they aren't genuinely working on this. So I think the "should there be software patents" should be separated off from "is Apple engaged in a con".

  • Compiz Fusion (Score:1, Informative)

    by LunarEffect (1309467)
    I think I'll stick with using Compiz Fusion [wikipedia.org], thank you very much. Free and Versatile ftw! =)
  • N-dimensions -1 (Score:4, Interesting)

    by StikyPad (445176) on Friday December 12, 2008 @02:07PM (#26094041) Homepage

    Setting aside for a minute the fact that data storage is already a multidimensional representation on any modern computer..

    The most efficient way to manipulate that data is in a 2D matrix. That's because we can see all of it at once -- at least, as much as can fit on the display and/or our arc of vision. If we lived in 4 spatial dimensions, it would make sense to represent data in 3 dimensions, because we could see all 3 of them at once (assuming we had 4D sensory input.. whatever that might be). Creating a 3D representation of data might look cool, but it's just not efficient to work with for any amount of data beyond 2-3 items. See: Win-Tab in Vista, Stacks in OSX. It's not that we need better ideas for how to represent data in 3D, rather it's a physical limit that we need to accept and stop trying to do it "because we can."

    If you still don't buy that, imagine living in 2 dimensions (which is probably easier than imagining 4). We exist only on a plane, and objects can be represented only on the axises around us; nothing above or below, and we could only see the 180 degree arc from left to right. It would make no sense to represent data as more than a 1D line. Sure, we could send a line to the front or back, but working with a set of data would be most efficiently accomplished along that line.

    It's always more efficient to work with a set of data in 1 less dimension than you exist in. (Unless you live in 1D.. then I guess you're screwed.) There's a reason we don't use a 3D writing system. There's a reason we don't stack monitors one behind the next. Store it in 3 dimensions, fine, as a book, or as a stack of 2D windows, but use it in 2 dimensions. A 3D desktop is form over function in the worst sense.

    • Creating a 3D representation of data might look cool, but it's just not efficient to work with for any amount of data beyond 2-3 items. See: Win-Tab in Vista, Stacks in OSX. It's not that we need better ideas for how to represent data in 3D, rather it's a physical limit that we need to accept and stop trying to do it "because we can.

      I won't argue that it has not been done very well yet, but I am not sure it is because it can't be done. You could make a similar argument that adding color to the desktop is pointless, but it can be used to add information.
      Perspective transformations, transparency, and other effects might well improve the interface even though they exist in 2 spacial dimension.

      Did you think Zaxxon was not a step forward?

    • And, it's most efficient to work with a set of data in 1 more dimension than you display it in.

      Why?
      Because.

    • by xtieburn (906792)

      You are right but your argument is extremely flawed.

      There is nothing to say that regardless of dimensions you will only ever be able to view things in a dimension below. The reason why we cant manipulate a true 3D display is because we dont see in 3D.

      3D is an illusion of 2D images and perspective, your brain does an exceptionally good job of it, ask anyone and they will tell you they see in 3D but ask them to tell you whats on the other side of an object and theyll have to go around to the other side to see

    • by jbolden (176878)

      Actually our vision is designed for 3+ dimensions. A huge percentage of our visual system is designed around detecting motion and changes in motion. A huge percentage is dedicated to depth. We want to use as much of the eye / brain system as possible not as little as possible to get information into the brain as quickly as possible.

  • welcome to 1999 (Score:4, Interesting)

    by logicassasin (318009) on Friday December 12, 2008 @02:40PM (#26094489)

    Back around 99, I remember installing a little OpenGL accellerated 3D desktop for Win98. At the time, I had an STB Permedia2 based card (full OpenGL ICD) and it was one of the very few cards that could run this "desktop" of sorts. Icons could be placed ANYWHERE in a 3D field and I could navigate 3D space around them. I could move through all three axis, rotate, do all kinds of things, even lose icons if I placed them in an area of 3D space too far away from the rest of the desktop stuff. It was neat for about 6 days, then I stopped using it.

    I'm sure I still have a copy of this in my CD graveyard. I'll look for it later and post up something when/if I find it.

  • I think there isn't a real need to migrate from a 2D to a 3D paradigm because the paradigm is actually already as 3D as it will get before we need a different type of display altogether. I think that the real value of a 3D desktop is incrementally improved window management and eye candy (which is not to say they aren't important). Still, I see 3D vs 2D more of an underlying tech thing instead of a user thing. I see it more like the switch from programmers using indexed paletted bitmaps to full RGBA bitmap
  • 3D Spinning Cube (Mac):

    http://www.codingmonkeys.de/subethaedit/goodies/ada.dmg [codingmonkeys.de]

    You're welcome.

  • From this article I wrote in 2004...

    http://scarydevil.com/~peter/io/3dworld.html [scarydevil.com]

You had mail, but the super-user read it, and deleted it!

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