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Intel, Nokia Developing Mobile 3D Tech

R&D lab will explore technologies like 3D holograms that display the person being talked to on a mobile device.

Nokia N8 Smartphone
(click image for larger view)
Nokia N8 Smartphone

Intel and Nokia have launched a joint laboratory that will focus in part on developing 3D user interfaces for mobile devices.

The center will be part of Intel's European research network, called Intel Labs Europe, and will be located at the University of Oulu in Finland, the home country of Nokia. The new lab will be focused on 3D technology that can make the interaction between users and mobile devices more immersive, much like today's 3D games and movies.

"3D technology could change the way we use our mobile devices and make our experiences with them much more immersive," Rich Green, senior VP and chief technical officer for Nokia, said in a statement released Tuesday.

Indeed, one possible area of research is technologies that would display a 3D hologram of the person being talked to on a smartphone, the companies said. Such capabilities today are only found in science fiction movies.

Much of the work will revolve around the MeeGo open source software platform developed jointly by Intel and Nokia. Hosted by the Linux Foundation, MeeGo is the merger of Intel's Mobilin operating system and Nokia's Linux Maemo OS.

The companies' goal with MeeGo is to provide a Linux-based platform that would run across a variety of devices including smartphones, netbooks, tablet computers, TVs, and in-vehicle infotainment systems.

Developers would build applications for the platform using the Qt development environment. The apps would be marketed via Nokia's Ovi Store and Intel's AppUp Center.

The two companies launched MeeGo this year and it remains to be seen how well it will compete against the dominant smartphone OSes today, namely Apple's iOS, Research In Motion's BlackBerry OS, and Google's Android.

Android in the second quarter became the leading smartphone OS in the United States, toppling the BlackBerry OS, according to the NPD Group. Android was the OS on 33% of all smartphones sold to U.S. consumers, compared to 28% for the BlackBerry OS and 22% for iOS.

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