[opensource] A couple of ideas for projects

Paul Betts bettsp at cse.ohio-state.edu
Tue May 2 00:02:34 EDT 2006

> The possibility for widespread 3d on the desktop has been around in
> hardware for a while but has only recently becoming available from the
> OS with MacOS X, Xgl and I heard a rumor that Vista will have it too
> (assuming it ever comes out).  I think this has opened up some really
> neat opportunities to be creative with how we are able to interact with
> the computer.
I think that instead of a 3D file browser which would be of questionable
usability, making Filelight (http://www.methylblue.com/filelight/) draw
using OpenGL, where the disk pieces appear to have depth (ie draw a
shadow under it), and spin around when you click, etc. 

> What if you made the desktop itself - behind the windows - 3d.  Say you
> make it a room that you can interact with.  Pick your furniture, "walk"
> around, put things in drawers and closets, etc.  Have windows that show
> the current weather and time of day outside, dynamic lighting inside the
> room.  Or even a house where you can go from room to room on your
> desktop.  Or maybe you want your desktop to be outdoors so you can
> pretend you're hiking the whole time you're at work.  Or SCUBA diving
> even!  "Jim, where's that TPS report?"  "Oh, I put it in the treasure
> chest."
I've actually thought about this kind of interaction quite a bit, and
the problem is that the fundamental way we interact with most
information is in a 2D fashion (at least the ones we use on a PC).
Writing a letter, creating a table, writing source code, and browsing
the web are all fundamentally 2D things, without a very clear way to
extrude them into 3D.

> There are lots of other neat things you could do with XGl too as far as
> making the windows themselves 3d objects and manipulating them in 3
> dimensions.  That could lead in some pretty interesting directions.
In my opinion, one of the more important things that Xgl lets
applications do is use true transparency. Being able to stack many UI
elements without hackery is definitely something UI designers can use.

Paul Betts <bettsp at cse.ohio-state.edu>

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