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3D User Interfaces

Following are some applications that visually represent processing and data using 3D and other techniques.

3D File System Visualization

  • Tactile3D - Windows program that allows users to organize files and directories in a 3D space. Users get the impression of exploring a vast virtual landscape, with each directory being a new world in which they can roam around and place objects where they want (screenshot)
  • XCruiser - 3D file system visualizer for Linux. Lets users fly through their file system as if it were interplanetary space: directories are represented as galaxies, files are represented as planets (whose mass is determined by the file size), and symbolic links are represented as wormholes (screenshot)
  • FSN - Produces a 3D rendering of a file system. This was the original 3D file system navigator shown in Jurassic Park ("Hey, this is UNIX. I know this!").(screenshot)
  • FSV - 3D file system visualizer for Linux that is modelled after FSN. FSV lays out files and directories in 3D, geometrically representing the file system hierarchy to allow visual overview and analysis (screenshot)
  • TDFSB - Linux program that reads directory information and displays them as a 3D world, so users can "take a walk" through their filesystem (screenshots)
  • StepTree - 3D file system visualizer for Windows that extends treemaps into three dimensions. Visualizes hierarchical storage as boxes stacked on top of each other on a warehouse floor (screenshot)
  • 3DFM - 3D file system visualizer for Linux, written with OpenGL. 3DFM organizes directories like a network, in which lines link directories with their parent directories like a spiderweb, making it easier to find directories that have many files (screenshot).
  • 3DNA - 3D desktop environment for Windows that visualizes links to folders, files, and programs in "worlds" with different themes, i.e. undersea, chateau, loft, sci-fi base station etc. (screenshots).
  • 3D-Space VFS - 3D file system navigator for Mac OS X that combines Launcher, Dock and Finder features with 3D drawers to provide a bird's eye view of disk contents (screenshot).

3D Process Visualization

  • psDoom - Provides a 3D first-person shooter (FPS) interface based on Doom to manage system processes (screenshot)
  • LavaPS - Represents OS process activity as blobs, with size that is proportional to memory usage; movement that is proportional to CPU usage; and color that is based on the program name and the time since the program last ran (screenshot)
  • Bubbling Load Monitor - Represents CPU and memory load monitor as a vial containing water, whereby the water level indicates how much memory is in use; the color of the liquid indicates how much swap space is used; and the system CPU load is indicated by the rate at which bubbles float up through the liquid (screenshot)
  • ps3 - Linux utility for visually monitoring process activity in 3D, with interactive rotation, zooming and scaling (see screenshot).

3D Window Managers

  • 3DTop - Extension for Windows that represents desktop icons in 3D, letting users to fly around desktop, change the shape of the icons, and rearrange them in 3D by dragging and dropping (screenshot)
  • SphereXP - 3D desktop replacement for Windows that displays icons and windows inside a sphere instead of a flat desktop (screenshot).
  • CubicEye - Organizes windows into a navigable 3D cube. Cubes can be arranged by thematic or functional subject matter, and can be explored either individually or collectively as part of a more comprehensive structure of multiple cubes representing various areas of interest (screenshot)
  • Matodate - 3D window manager for Windows; adds a 3D positioning button to the standard set of window management buttons which can be used to minimize, maximize, and close windows in 3D space (screenshot)
  • Cube is a 3D Desktop that runs on top of Microsoft Windows 2000, Windows XP and Windows 2003, and replaces conventional 2D GUI with new 3D interface. It utilizes conventional keyboard and mouse, using OpenGL as rendering pipeline (see screenshots).

3D Search Interfaces

  • VxInsight - Tool for visually discovering relationships within large databases. Uses 3D landscapes to reveal the implicit structure of data, helping users uncover relevant connections (screenshot)
  • Pansophica - Creates relevancy-ranked 3D views of the web, enabling users to visually locate documents of interest (screenshot)
  • Minitasking - Graphical browser for surfing the Gnutella peer-to-peer network. Minitasking represents other Gnutella servents it encounters as bubbles that vary in size and color depending on the amount of content they are hosting. When users enter a query for a file, the query is color-coded, and minitasking then graphically "zaps" other servents, visualizing how many matches that servent has with another bubble that matches the color of the query. (screenshot)
  • 3D Topicscape - Organization assistant that helps users map concepts by visualizing details about documents and their relationships using a 3D Mind Map. Users search for keywords, phrases, and intuitive concepts by by flying around the 3D landscape (screenshot).
  • SpaceTime - 3D search interface enables users to visually search web sites for hundreds of items at a time. It presents search result as a stack of separate images in a 3D space, which users can fly through to find what they are looking for (screenshot).

3D Browsers

  • Basilar is a web browser that builds a 3D city as you surf. Every website visited causes a new building to be created, whereby the height of the building is based on the site's importance. The building's exteriors are created with text and images from the visited site (screenshot, demo video).
  • RDFRoom is a prototype for a third-person shooter interface to navigate information models based on Resource Description Framework (RDF). RDFRoom displays an RDF graph as an isometric room, in which each node appears as a solid object shaped like the concept it is representing (i.e. "mailto:" resources are shown as e-mails, "foaf:Person" resources as people etc). The user is represented as a character who can walk around these objects, pick them up, put them down, shoot & "kill" them, and open them up to expand into nested spaces (see screenshot).
  • 3DB is a 3D web browser that turns the web browsing experience into a personalized 3D space, with avatars and the ability to chat with friends. It appears to be targeted at web-based shopping, by collecting online stores into a mall-like environment that can be virtually walked through (see demos)
  • SphereXPlorer - 3D web browser based on SphereXP (screenshot).
  • Clara - 3D web browser that lets you walk, fly, or jump through a virtual world where all the objects are usable, interactive web-pages. You can read the pages just as you would in 2D, i.e. scroll them, click them, or hear them (screenshots).
  • OpenCroquet - 3D operating system designed to enable visual collaboration between teams of dispersed users. Based on open source software, OpenCroquet has a 3D user interface (see screenshots) and runs on a peer-to-peer network architecture called TeaTime, which is based on the concept of replicating not only the data of objects, but also their computations, coordinated by a universal time-base embedded within its communications protocol.

I'm not a robot like you. I don't like having disks crammed into me... unless they're Oreos, and then only in the mouth. -- Fry

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