While social networking changed the way we communicate, there is a big issue in front of us - the way how we communicate with the computer. Regardless of using Windows XP, Vista, W7, Linux, Mac OS, everything is nothing else but "lipstick on a pig" of the old 2D GUI from Xerox PARC, where Bill Gates and Steve Jobs got their revelation.
We worked with several different 3D desktops in the past, but for now, BumpTop looks very promising [YouTube video]. This Canadian venture worked on this OpenGL 3D desktop for several years, and has finally come out of the beta stage. In order to see if this interface is usable at all, we downloaded the application and installed it - the hassle-free installation was appreciated. When installed, BumpTop will eat around 128MB of system memory, but with 2GB modules being cheaper than a case of soft drinks, we don't see that being an issue.
Yes, this is Windows XP after BumpTop virtual makeover... and you can customize it any way you like.
Starting the desktop made us do two things: go to control panel and turn on 8xAA and start playing with icons. What BumpTop actually does is drop the 2D desktop to a specific angle and builds walls around it - everything is interactive, of course. If you have a cluttered desktop, ability to group the icons using Lasso'n'Cross function looks functional with the mouse, but it really excels on a touchscreen. There is little doubt that BumpTop was designed with multi-touch capabilities. If you're a social networking junkie, a really good feature is dropping the picture onto Twitter/Facebook icons, resulting in immediate posting of the picture in question. Same is with e-mail… select the files that you need to send out and just drag them onto the "New Mail" icon.
Creating piles of similar files is very easy - it is simple with the mouse, but we feel this is one of those "w00w" features when you have a touchscreen display.
As you probably noticed, we mentioned that this desktop uses PhysX API. nVidia's PhysX is being run on a CPU, so there is no need to cry foul if you own an ATI graphics card. The company used PhysX to "add some intelligence - for example, more frequently used files appear bigger and actually get 'heavier' and push 'lighter' files out of the way when they bump into each other". Developers say that this "feeling" will have much more weight if you use a touchscreen display. To us, it is really interesting to see PhysX API expanding from the world of games into serious applications, but it is weird not seeing nVidia's marketing pushing this application like crazy.
No problem with the interaction with 2D windows...unlike some alternatives that we tried in the past, BumpTop simply sits as another wallpaper and alt+tab works perfectly...
Personally, I played with this app for the past 24 hours, and it is going to remain active on my work computer… with 24" FullHD display, gaining three more "walls" by default [and interactivity with each one] is something that should not be missed out. We will take a detailed look into this application, but for now, we can say that this is one application you should try out regardless of running Windows 7 or not, owning a touchscreen LCD or not. All in all, good work guys'n'girls.
BumpTop currently supports Windows operating systems, but the company plans to bring Mac OSX and Linux support in very near future. We expect to see a beta soon.
Did we mention that this company features some folk from ATI? It is a small world.