An innovative three-dimensional search program puts a unique spin on Internet searching. All results are displayed in a 3-D space that users can navigate and manipulate.
SpaceTime presents all search results, shopping windows and browsing activity in a continuous 3-D stack that merges results to save time and improve browsing efficiency.
SpaceTime released a public beta version of its browser on June 4 as the first step in readying the new searching concept for a future release as a commercial product. Until the unspecified commercial launch, the program will be a free download.
Early beta releases rarely impress me. However, since my work as a product reviewer and technology news writer involves countless hours of staring at computer screens, the promise of a 3-D viewing environment on my Windows XP gear was too good to ignore.
Even in its pre-beta release form, SpaceTime delivers on its promise to save me time and provide a revolutionary online searching tool. The browser worked as described. However, looking at search results lists from Google, for instance — and at the same time scrolling from window to window to view the sites from those search results — requires some adjustment to my work routine.
While I continue to use the 3-D searching environment, though, I am having more fun than I should at work.
What It Does
SpaceTime puts a three-dimensional front end on the process of Web searching. It can access any Web page as well as any other browser, but its special 3-D search functionality currently works with Google, Google Images, Yahoo, Yahoo Images, Flickr and eBay. Others will be added, assured SpaceTime CEO and creator Eddie Bakhash.
The SpaceTime interface has three key modes: 3-D Search, 3-D eBay Search, and 3-D Tabbed Browsing. Nothing available today comes close to doing this.
SpaceTime lets users browse eBay listings more like flipping through an electronic catalog of full-sized images. Users can also explore other retail sites in its 3-D space for ease of comparison shopping. Just enter the search term or object sought on eBay to unleash a 3-D thumbnail parade of all objects available. Each object is linked to the text and bidding features.
The SpaceTime 3-D search functionality loads multiple search results as a stack of separate pages. Unlike ordinary search tools, which return a list of links that require clicking one at a time, SpaceTime simultaneously loads 10 results, each in its own window. Using a mouse or keyboard, users can then quickly flip through the results, re-arrange the pages or manipulate them as desired.
New Way to Tab
As cool as it is to search for products and text in 3-D, I was particularly impressed with SpaceTime’s tab browsing capabilities. It is much more than what is available with the tabbed browsing feature in Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 7.0 or in the open source Firefox browser.
With SpaceTime, I have an unlimited 3-D space. This lets me map out my browsing progress in a visual time line, treating each Web site as an object that I can manipulate and rearrange within the 3-D environment.
SpaceTime also lets me alternate between 3-D and 2-D perspectives by double clicking on a 3-D display and then clicking the Return button. This process eliminates the hassle of reading and closing pop-up windows and clicking on the Back button. As much as I like the ability in Firefox to open a new tab when I click on a search link, viewing a stack of 10 related search objects in one flexible view leaves all the other two-dimensional browsers in the digital dust.
Clearly, this type of product would not have been possible before the rise of Web 2.0. By comparison, Bakhash hints that SpaceTime could be an early window to what lies ahead with Web 3.0 tools.
“This product is eight years in the making,” Bakhash told TechNewsWorld. “We see this as a technological achievement. We’ve watched broadband access improve, so we had to keep adapting before we were able to launch.”
Since the inception of the Internet, the process of browsing has been limited and static, noted Bakhash in discussing his view for Web 3.0. Now users can enjoy the richness of the Web with an application that is more interactive, intuitive and fun, he concluded.
“Most computers have high-end graphics and high-speed Internet access. So this is a great opportunity,” Bakhash said.
SpaceTime drags all-too-slowly or does not run at all on lesser-powered computer systems. The 3-D browser must be operating on Windows 2000, XP or Vista, have at least 512 MB of RAM, 128 MB of video RAM and processing power provided by either a 2.4 GHz Pentium 4 chip or an AMD 2400xp+ chip.
Eventually, Bakhash expects SpaceTime to work from any platform. For now, however, it only runs on Windows 2000, Windows XP and Windows Vista. He is working on a Mac version to be released next 2008, he said.