RealTime IT News

3-D Web Browsing Gets More 'Reel'

An innovative add-on for Web surfers is now available for free download.

SpaceTime 1.0, which adds a 3-D view to multiple Web and search pages, officially launched this week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The idea is that the stacked pages are easier to pick and choose from versus tabbing through separate pages or multiple browsers.

For searches, SpaceTime simultaneously loads 10 results at a time, each in its own page or window. Users can flip through the results, re-arrange the pages or manipulate them as desired.

Similarly, commerce sites like eBay and Amazon; RSS feeds, Flickr, YouTube and others can be accessed from the SpaceTime interface as a stack of separate pages. For example, YouTube fans can have SpaceTime show the most popular clips of the day shown as stacks as if they were on a reel.

Videos can be maximized to full screen at a click, and automatically paused when you "change channels" or switch to another reel.

Gartner search analyst Allen Weiner said his first impression is SpaceTime might be a nice addition for some users, but doesn't see it having major impact.

"This has more graphical elegance, but you can tab thru multiple windows with Firefox," he told InternetNews.com.

"Also, there's a lot of things happening to try and kind of disintermediate the browser, like widgets on your desktop," he said. "This is almost an anti-widget, trying to keep everything in the browser. Widgets aren't perfect, but I have some that provide very handy access to things outside the browser."

SpaceTime CEO Eddie Bakhash agrees widgets are a big trend, but thinks a 3-D interface expands the usefulness of the browser more significantly.

"You can have all your Internet activity recorded on a timeline without memorizing click trails, trying to recall obscure pages or hunting through embedded tabs," Bahash told InternetNews.com. "Whatever you're doing, whether it's a news page, photo album or search, you can save that in Spacetime and revisit whenever you want to."

The program had its first public preview at the DEMO conference last September and a private beta version has been available since then. This week's 1.0 release is considered a more polished, ready for prime time version that addresses feedback from early beta users.

SpaceTime currently works with Internet Explorer 7 with Firefox support "coming soon." Bahash said his company will generate revenue by licensing its graphical user interface (GUI) to other companies as well as ad search revenue.

While SpaceTime shines on a large display with multiple windows floating in space, Bahash said he's also talking to ultramobile hardware makers about licensing the GUI. "The 3-D interface provides a way to zoom in an out and take full advantage of the small screen size," he said.

For the next version or update, Bahash said SpaceTime is working on support for additional content types like social networks, movie previews and real estate listings with a 3-D twist.