Mozilla Seabird Experiment Provides 3D Projection for Smartphone Interface

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Mozilla Seabird Experiment Provides 3D Projection for Smartphone Interface

by Clint Boulton

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Seabird Takes Wing

Text input is the primary access point for today's smartphones, but this is a cumbersome experience, even on physical and virtual keyboards with the best user interface design.

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Seabird shows how a Bluetooth/infrared-powered dongle could spruce up the gestural interface by displaying it outside the context of the phone. Here, users might access the device through a virtual, 3D touch screen. Users will pan and zoom in 3D space, using haptic clicking by touch.

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Pico Projector, with Docking Station

Note how Seabird, using a docking station, projects the applications above the phone on a blackboard with the 3D, infrared-powered keyboard situated below it to approximate the functionality of today's desktops computers. We want one now!

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The Phone

May used "aerodynamic, avian and decidedly feminine forms" for the design-hence the name Seabird. The curved back elevates the projector lens elements when lying flat.

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Mozilla noted Seabird is a community-driven experiment, cautioning that it has no plans to produce an OS or hardware, including its own mobile phone model, "at the moment."

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Let's say Mozilla did decide to build a mobile phone. It would have to challenge Apple, which by now no doubt has seen Mozilla Seabird in action. Who is to say Apple won't build similar technology?

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That same logic can be extended to Google's Android operating system. No one is prevented from building such holographic projections as Android applications.

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Seabird on a Droid 2

Imagine Seabird running on a Droid 2. Users would be able to use a virtual keyboard, physical keyboard and 3D virtual keyboard projected on a larger screen outside the phone.

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Seabird in Action

OK, we confess. We have a video of Seabirdin action. Check it out. You really need to see this in action to grok it.

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