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Project Looking Glass 3D by Sun Microsystems Advanced Development Division

As you have probably already noticed one of my greatest passions inside computer technology is the study of Graphical User Interfaces (GUI). In 2004 I had come across a new system that was still in work by Sun Microsystems. This new GUI, although it was open-source and available for testing had not caused any kind of uproar, and it hasn’t so far. Anyway, I remembered about the project some weeks ago and began revisiting the pages to find out how far the project had come along. I wasn’t able to start working on it immediately but it was on the list of priorities to do as soon as I got hold of a good internet connection (surfing on GPRS can be expensive!).

So how is Project Looking Glass 3D significantly different from other GUIs? The meaning is partly hidden in the name, “3D”. The project uses Java technology to bring in a 3D effect of windows, that is in conventional systems, the windows are lined in front of us, 1 behind another. In 3D however, we are able to access each of these windows without having to move any other windows by a simple action of ‘zooming in’ or ‘zooming out’ of windows. This would be like having 10 cards viewed from the side at angle which will allow us to see the face of the cards.


Also known as LG3D, is available for Sun Solaris/Linux and Windows. The support level for each of these platforms differ at the moment, so you will not be able to run any applications if you choose to install the Windows version. Support is better for the Sun Solaris/Linux version with a good range of application which illustrates the best parts of the GUI.

There are various ways to test this new GUI. Either you can install the latest build for which you will also need to make a large number of downloads for support of the Java platform on Windows/Sun Solaris/Linux. The second way is to download the Live CD of 234 MB which will run from a CD or Flash.

It’s always interesting to see technology building on technology. Nokia’s new application, while it hasn’t instantly caught on, is one of these. By taking the fundamental concepts of Peer To Peer (P2P) file sharing Nokia has produced a piece of software that allows users to share files and messages.

Nokia Sensor relies on an always-on bluetooth setting as one of it’s primary requirements. You then need to set up a ‘folio’, which as the name suggests is a sort of portfolio, a profile of yourself. This what other mobile phone users with Nokia Sensor will come across when they first access you.

You can visit www.nokia.com/sensor to view a Macromedia Flash animation on how the application functions then download it. It’s Free :d


They can then start messaging and exchanging files with you. I’ve had the software installed for 2 months but Nokia have failed to promote the software so I haven’t come across a single user who has it.

Later, I was surprised at the kind of attention these applications were gaining in other parts of the world, which is not the case here. A piece from a documentary that was shown on CNN told the story of how youth in Middle Eastern countries use their mobile phones, installed with ‘social networking software’ to track new partners, where otherwise dating would simply not be possible the conventional way.

I did some searching on Google and came across more links. Looks like Nokia Sensor is not the only software on the market, it might be the most commercialized at the moment but there are others initiative (by private groups) such as Spontact, Speck, 6th Sense and Bluedating. Each of these have their features which may make them comparitively better or worse. Speck (http://speck.randomfoo.net/) for instance, although not a final product, is based on a ‘personal smart presence’ device which can connect to other devices of its kind or mobile phones using bluetooth. After tracking down a particular user, the device or application, if running on a mobile phone, can keep track of that user alerting you of their presence around a 100m range. Its selection system is also based around a profile. Although Speck’s website and its developers place the dating/social intermingling with strangers as a secondary function of the device, it still does not justify the design of an electronic device solely for this purpose, when an equally good J2ME implementation is most certain to work on any phone today.

Another group of developers in Switzerland, produced an intelligent location service based application called Bluelocator. To put it simply, Bluelocator makes it easy to find your friends in a crowd. It makes use of a number of central Bluetooth devices which are in constant contact of your friends, if you would like to find out where one of your friends is in a crowd or large gathering, you simply query the central bluetooth device which scans for your friend’s location (each central bluetooth device has a unique physical adress much like mobile phone antenna/repeaters) it then returns you with a physical adress.

This is an interesting line of technology, particulary in the realm of social networking where most of the ideas are still on paper and very few have entered the real world. Stay tuned.