Google Goes 3D In War For Your TV And Desktop

What happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object? In this case the force is Google and the immovable object is the Microsoft Windows ecosystem, and with Google's purchase earlier this month of Canadian startup BumpTop, this little piece of physics trivia might unfold before us.  In founder Anand Agarawala's own words, BumpTop is “a user interface that takes the usual desktop metaphor to a glorious, 3-D extreme, transforming file navigation into a freewheeling playground of crumpled documents and clipping-covered walls.”  

It is said that an “unstoppable force” needs to have 'infinite energy”, and one thing Google certainly does have is deep pockets, though this purchase came cheap – only $30M for a company that was founded 4 years ago by Anand while he was pursuing a Master's Degree in Computer Science at my alma mater, the University Of Toronto.  While the acquisition occurred back on May 3rd, coverage of the event was thin and I actually only caught up to this story yesterday  – not hard to understand why as this was the same day Apple announced it had sold 1 Million iPad's. Dana Flavelle, business writer over at the Toronto Star covered BumpTop wrote up a good piece on the topic this morning. Back in March of 2007, only 25 at the time, Anand speaks at TED about his BumpTop creation – see the video below.

If one takes a step back and considers the announcement of Google TV just last week coupled with the rush for client computing devices that are truly integrated across personal, professional, entertainment – indeed across all “life” paradigms – and “bump” that up against the growing Google ecosystem that now includes Android and Chrome – it becoming clear to this pundit that while the first 6 months of 2010 was all about Apple and Facebook (or so it seemed, didn't it Molly?), Google  has some announcements brewing that should prove to be pretty exciting.  In fact just today, Google announced a new stable version of Chrome For Windows, Mac and Linux.
BumpTop Desktop
Though it is exciting to hear about this type of Canadian success story, it is unfortunate that the brain-drain to the US happens to be so often, the path of least resistance and in fact the typical end game.   For those who had not yet downloaded it, as of May 10th, Google turned off the taps and since then Anand has been spending much time at the Google campus in Palo Alto, California.  You can find more information about BumpTop Founder Anand on his rather distinctive home page — it actually seems that in the last 24 hours Anand's Live Journal has been pulled from the site.  There were many interesting tidbits there about his wanderings and meetings at the Googleplex…pity, I should have captured them last night.  The Google security clamp down is evident…
If one looks at Chrome, Android and Google TV as today being 3 very different UI's across 3 distinct user paradigm platforms, it would seem to make sense that out of this there needs to evolve some common base platform layer.  With all the energy around Chrome, that's likely where that will come from – expect to see BumpTop integrated somewhere, likely on the PC desktop/tablet side of things as I don't see this displacing or impact Android.  You simply need more screen space for the functionality BumpTop offers.  Where I could see this technology become a player is in the 3D TV market – imagine standing in front of your new Sony 3D Google TV HDTV  wearing your 3D glasses and performing Natal like gestures in full view of your PlayStation Eye.  Who do I make out the cheque to?
Minority Report Meets BumpTop 

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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