Thursday, July 15, 2004

Project Looking Glass

The home page of the Java 3D window manager project.

Project Looking Glass is based on Java technology and explores bringing a richer user experience to the desktop and applications via 3D windowing and visualization capabilities. It is an open development project based on and evolved from Sun Microsystems' advanced technology project. It will support running unmodified existing applications in a 3D space, as well as APIs for 3D window manager and application development. At the moment, existing application integration is supported for Linux platforms.

The project intends to break two boundaries -- the 2D-ness of the current desktop environment and the way the desktop environment evolves. Project Looking Glass is in its infancy. We need to explore lots of ideas and possibilities. We're releasing the Project Looking Glass code to the whole community to explore every aspect of the technology rather than restricting access to a privileged few. We believe this open development is an excellent model to pursue this exciting and vast opportunity. So, your involvement is eagerly anticipated.
Talking about visualization is all well and good, but I've yet to see anything about Looking Glass that suggests it'll bring any real benefits to users beyond the sheer "gee whiz" element, and much the same could be said for the 3D windowing features shown off in Longhorn at WinHEC earlier this year. If Looking Glass and Avalon are to be more than opportunities to show off some 3D eye candy, they'll either have to provide radically new methods of interaction that aren't easily implementable using the traditional "PC as virtual desktop" paradigm, or (more likely) it'll be through their making it possible for others to do so. All that is likely to come from merely turning the desktop into a 3D space is that users will find interesting new ways to misplace items and become disoriented.

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