RealTime IT News

Xerox, Microsoft To Offer Virtual Books

Researchers at Microsoft Corp. announced Tuesday that they have licensed technology from Xerox Corp. which it will use in a new technology that will make books viewable online.

WebBooks is an application designed to create virtual pages in 3-D that Internet users can handle as if they were part of a real book. The WebBooks are displayed in a three-dimensional workspace, and can be easily manipulated, stored and retrieved, Microsoft said.

Under terms of Tuesday's agreement, Microsoft will enlist Xerox's WebForager, a technology designed to allow Internet users to leaf through the virtual pages. Financial terms were not disclosed.

"As a new technology, WebForager could significantly influence the future of graphical user interfaces," said Dan Ling, director of Microsoft Research. "We plan to use the technology in combination with Microsoft's current 3-D user interface research."

John Seely Brown, Xerox's chief scientist, said the Web is the perfect place to introduce virtual books.

"The Web is built on a document metaphor and WebForager honors the manner in which humans are most comfortable dealing with documents and sharing what they know -- pages and books -- with underlying technology that is so complex it offers the elegance of intuitive simplicity," he said.