The Progress Behind the Web and 3D Technologies
We have good news! What if we told you that according to our measurements, users could achieve 30%-50% better recall and 30% faster task completion times when using MaxWhere’s 3D spaces compared to traditional web-based content sharing methods? Is MaxWhere 3D the new way to go?
Let’s go back in time, say, 22 years. That’s right: imagine you went back to the year 2000 and had to explain to people what the modern Internet was all about. You’d soon realize that you barely have the conceptual tools to do so! Consider the technological and social context of the Internet back in those old days:
- On the hardware side, the 1st iPhone hadn’t even been released yet, not to mention netbooks, tablets, Chromebooks and all the other devices that have appeared since.
- On the software side, we didn’t have Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google Workspace, Microsoft Teams, and all the other cloud-based social and office platforms we take for granted today.
- On the cultural side, we barely had blogs (a term that was coined in 1997), not to mention vlogs, podcasts, and other forms of Internet media (and creativity) that are consumed and enjoyed by billions of people today.
It’s small wonder you’d be at a loss to give people a picture of what the modern Internet is in a way that is true not only to its technological background, but also to its social and cultural relevance. You’d also find it difficult to communicate the sense of inevitability we all get when contemplating living without our gadgets, even if for a short while.
Virtual Reality is Here (Again)
Jumping back to 2022, we at MaxWhere believe we are in a similar situation when trying to forecast and appreciate the relevance of 3D technologies in the coming decades.
In the past, we’ve lived through many a hype cycle related to virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and other 3D display devices. Remember when all the buzz was about the Oculus, or even before that, about Google Glasses? These devices (and crucially the graphics formats and processing pipelines underlying their functionality) have never become truly widespread, at least not in the way one would have expected based on the hype. But this doesn’t mean that they cannot serve as part of the technological foundations and the know-how underlying a truly ground-breaking revolution in computing.
Consider the deep ways in which the TCP/IP protocol stack and the World Wide Web have contributed to what we know as the Internet today! Both of these technologies are quite old, having been invented in the 1970s and the 1980s. Yet, they form an integral part of the modern Internet. In the same way, we can rest assured that the achievements behind the Oculus, Google Glasses and other 3D display technologies are here to stay with us – it's just difficult to appreciate their role since the ecosystem that will surround them to generate the next computing revolution is still in flux.
Join the 3D Revolution!
What is needed for such a revolution vis-à-vis 3D technologies to take place, and what would this revolution look like?
If we can learn anything from the past, it’s that such revolutions start off almost unnoticed, but eventually go on to reach a dizzying pace, supported by a whole ecosystem of applications that connect existing data sources, applications, and use cases to form a larger platform. Usually, as all the tools and use cases coalesce around such a new platform, it becomes increasingly impractical, and later impossible to ignore it, and it turns out that the new platform can still accommodate all the applications and interfaces that users were previously accustomed to.
So, while it’s true that even today, one can still use a command line interface to configure many applications, even on the cloud; and while it’s also true that we still often use offline applications to carry out professional activities or to play games, we find ourselves doing this less and less.
The overall reality is that in the early 21st century, we have moved on from command lines to 2D graphical interfaces (icons, images, mouse / touch interactions), and from desktop platforms to Mobile, Web and the Cloud.
All three of these platforms offer increasingly practical substitutes and even radical enhancements to the key applications we use every day. For example, the Cloud combines the usefulness of existing offline software solutions with the added novelty of collaborative work, social interactions and high-level data interoperability, enabling users to export content in one application and to import it into another, thereby integrating a growing variety of data sources.
In a similar vein, 3D display technologies promise to revolutionize the way we interact with data, both personal and professional, in networked and social settings based on interactions that rely on spatial constructs. Nowadays, this vision has gained enough clarity to become crystallized in the technology-driven buzzword known as the ‘Metaverse’.
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MaxWhere: Cloud and Desktop Computing with 3D Integration
Let’s consider an example that will aptly describe the vision that we at MaxWhere share about the powerful capabilities of a future Metaverse. Today, it is a commonplace experience in professional settings that pdfs, documents, videos, and web links are shared among co-workers over e-mail or a company-wide file sharing facility. Content that is shared in this way is then either downloaded and accessed using offline software tools or opened in a web browser. The content is then interacted with either individually or collaboratively.
This capability for sharing information across multiple channels in interoperable and collaborative ways is already extremely powerful – and, frankly, would have been unimaginable a mere 20 years ago. But integrated into a Metaverse of the future, the same functionalities could be accessed more seamlessly and at less cognitive costs. What do we mean by this?
Imagine if instead of sharing a set of files (whether offline or web-based) one-by-one, a user could instead lay out all of this content in a 3D space, and then share the whole space with others. The space would then become a novel unit of information (and a novel potentiality for interaction) that not only organizes the content, but also contextualizes it:
- In terms of organization, a spatial arrangement would allow someone to resize the different documents so that some of them appear smaller or larger than others, or relatively closer to or farther from one another in the 3D space.
- In terms of contextualization, the 3D space would undoubtedly have features of its own that can serve as digital affordances to drive the implicit interpretations that users have about the content in the space, and the ways in which users will interact with the content. For example, large billboards or videos placed on the walls would implicitly signal to users that they can get an overall picture of what is inside the space by looking at that content first. Similarly, an office desk in a corner of the room would be a natural place to put books or documents that require a deeper kind of concentration and more time to work on.
A key insight behind MaxWhere’s technology is that the human brain, by virtue of its operating from its first stages of development in 3D, is naturally adapted to thinking in terms of 3D relationships and associations.
Outstanding Effectiveness in 3D
At MaxWhere, we are certain that the next step in the progress of computing is to harness this innate human capability, to achieve a higher bandwidth of collaborative information sharing using 3D metaphors. Interaction with information (i.e., reading, understanding, sharing, editing) is much faster in such an environment, for two reasons:
- the relationships between and relative importance of different documents are clear by virtue of the spatial arrangement.
- users in a 3D environment no longer have to search for specific documents within a folder-file hierarchy as is done traditionally; instead, they open the space, and all of the content just appears in its own place.
According to our measurements, users can achieve 30%-50% better recall and 30% faster task completion times when using such 3D spaces compared to traditional web-based content sharing methods.
MaxWhere’s 3D platform was created with this underlying vision in mind. Today, MaxWhere allows users to browse 3D spaces in much the same way that one would browse webpages on the world-wide web, while also being able to create their own spaces, populate them with their own projects and share the spaces and projects with others. In some specialized cases beyond collaborative work (e.g., industrial applications, professional training, art exhibitions), the ability to configure and share 3D objects is also important.
Currently we provide a growing number of clients with custom-tailored solutions for the manipulation and sharing of 3D configurations of objects. Increasingly, these features will be rolled out to all of our users, making MaxWhere a versatile platform for configuring, sharing, and working in 3D spaces.
Download MaxWhere if you want to be part of the 3D revolution and are interested in getting started with your own space! If you have any questions or comments, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.