INSpace - Blog

Glasses-free 3D displays and mainstream computing

There is an important technology coming down the line that hasn’t got much press yet. People are well aware of 3D TV’s that require glasses to allow you to perceive depth effectively, but a number of companies are now developing cost-effective solutions that do not require glasses any more, for example Ultra-D and Dimenco.

Early glasses-free 3D TVs were highly compromised by the simple lenses they used, resulting in the viewer losing the 3D effects as they moved their heads around. The next generation of glasses-free technology has solved these problems and gives a truly immersive 3D experience.

Whilst this is certainly a step forward for consumer TV, what about computer displays? As these technologies mature over the coming years there is no reason why all computer displays (handhelds, laptops and desktop systems ), cannot not upgrade to real 3D as well. I believe it’s coming and I’d like to explain why.

Peripherals and Computing

Having studied the computer games industry for most of my life, I have observed that peripheral hardware never gets to the mainstream without a mass-user ‘killer app’ that heavily depends on the peripheral device to augment its experience. The only exception to this rule is for peripherals that are core to the OS such as the mouse for Mac and Windows.

Very often no major software really uses a peripheral device unless it becomes bundled with the standard hardware. So until one hardware manufacturer bites the bullet and bundles by default, the device never hits the main stream.

This is one of the reasons I think that manufacturers of glasses-dependent 3D will find it hard to engage people other than hardcore gamers or users of specific commercial applications (e.g. in healthcare and engineering). Apart from the fact that glasses are a cumbersome thing to wear, they don’t come as standard with a system. No large software project would commit to developing specific software for them unless they are paid to do so by the manufacturer. With no pre-existing installed base of hardware, it’s a chicken and egg issue.

Glasses free 3D screens and mainstream computing

So how will it happen? Well, we do know that some of the largest technology companies in the world such as Apple, Nintendo, Google, Facebook and Amazon have all been spending on research, development and filing patents in the areas of 3D and display technologies. Where these companies lead, everyone else follows.

Couple this with the fact that we know it is possible to have an affordable glasses-free 3D display, and then joining the dots is not hard.

Within a few years I feel fairly secure in saying that 3D screens are coming to your device. And added to this, the core OS will begin to be augmented to support visual depth information.

All computer devices are already enabled with powerful GPU’s for 3D rendering. So once the 3D screen is included, it’s not a big stretch for the desktop experience to be augmented with depth. For example, icons will be able to ‘float’ around the desktop background and drop shadows will appear around icons and windows. Depth will begin to be expressed as standard on desktops. This will be further augmented with head tracking and gyroscopic data to create parallax for proper depth-perception.

This coming revolution is very exciting for us at inSpace, as we are at the forefront of this revolution on the software side. We will to continue to pioneer our ideas of how a true ‘spatial desktop’ can work and aim to be 100% ready for when these screens come to the mass market.

inSpace Desktop release 3 – November 2014

WebViewer_250_250 Over the last few months we have proven some exciting features for inSpace. These features now give us the confidence to rename our concept to the “inSpace Desktop”, and shows the first steps to wards our vision of the future of how we will interact with computers in the future. As development progresses our desktop will become increasingly functional and relevant to users as a general purpose share-able desktop, media viewer and presentation tool.

Web Viewer

We have integrated the Chromium open source web browser into our desktop which allows users to bookmark web pages in their webSpace and view / navigate them as you would with any normal web browser. Web links can be easily copied and pasted into any selected webSpace node in order to set you up.

3D Model Viewer

We have begun to integrate high quality 3D content into the desktop. Currently our interface browses untextured 3D print models in STL and OBJ formats. These files need to be uploaded to our servers via our web portal <> < <>> before they can be viewed and shared in webSpace.

Configuring webSpace Layout

We have started the work required to configure the structure of webSpace in real time using drag and drop although this is still very much work in progress. As well as the above, we have been working hard to iron out bugs and make our core platform more and more resilient and faster. Our current release allows webSpace to be smoothly navigated with a high degree of concurrent object loads.

Work for the next update

We hope to have another update our before Christmas. This will include more work on drag and drop as well as our permissioning system which allows you to safely share things with your friends, publicly or keep private.

inSpace 3D browser release 2 – 18th August 2014

inSpaceBlogUpdate17082014_250_250 Over 2013 we pushed a lot of functionality into the code base but much of this functionality is still not fully exposed to users. Our aim was to get it integrated into the architecture and ready to be fleshed out and exposed once we are happy that the basic functionality of the browser was working well. Over the last few months our development focus has been around nailing a simple proposition – that of viewing and sharing photo albums in 3D Webspace. We have been working hard to make sure that the functionality required for this, as well as our core navigation paradigm, really works well. This consolidation has also included a significant amount of bug fixing on the data streaming systems so, all together, inSpace is starting to feel like a real product now . The latest release takes us to a point where 3D Webspace can be smoothly navigated and many concurrent objects, such as images and Wikipedia pages, can be streamed and viewed seamlessly. Additionally the navigation bar functionally has been optimised, the up, forward and back buttons are now working consistently which allows you to tour where you have recently been. We have also added a grid layout option as we continue to enhance the functionality available in the layout system.

Work for the next update

Over the coming six weeks we intend to consolidate further with one more phase of performance work. This will give us at least two times more performance in both downloading images and rendering performance, allowing you to view larger and more complex Webspaces with more content. In parallel to this performance work we are going to work on getting the first cut of 3D model importing into Webspace so that they can be viewed in the 3D Browser. The first functionality here will be to import untextured 3D printer models (.stl format and a few other simple formats depending on time). Import will be implemented as drag and drop of .stl files into the inSpace cloud (filespace) on our Website. As with images, dragging these files into your Webspace will allow them to be seen in the 3D browser. Time permitting we hope to allow dragging and dropping of html links to .stl files directly into the 3D browser. On our website, we will add permissions support so that you can easily define which users see which aspects of your Webspace content as well as heading toward finalising out “bitcoin like” system that I covered in the last post.