Intel and Nokia are reviving the spirit of Second Life with plans for 3D interfaces on mobile devices running their MeeGo Linux distro.
The companies have announced their first joint innovation center at Finland's Oulu University, and it will specialize in the development of 3D interfaces and environments for MeeGo.
Intel and Nokia executives speaking Monday said that they hope to transfer the experience of 3D from the PC to mobile. The believe that while 3D in Second Life hasn't lived up to the promise, 3D as a technology has passed out of hype mode and is ready for wide adoption.
The duo believe 3D will finally see off gaming and collaboration on the multi-touch iPad and iPhone and answer Windows Phone 7, which combines Silverlight and XNA to deliver what Microsoft hopes will be a rich interactive gaming and application environment.
Amid much talk of paradigm shifts, Heikki Huomo, director of the University's Center for Internet Excellence, co-founded by Nokia, said: "We are starting the research and we believe we are able to find new use paradigms beyond the current use paradigms."
The director for Intel Labs Europe Martin Curley added: "Nobody has a the monopoly on innovations - this will stiffen the competition and raise the game for everybody."
Twenty four researchers will work during the next three years to build and release projects and code under an open-source license, Intel and Nokia said Monday.
Ideas will be delivered across different technologies and as specific Nokia products, although the companies said it's too early say what products and when.
Intel and Nokia executives outlined possible scenarios, such as "home control systems" where you could mimic your house to turn on and off heating or lighting, and the use of 3D to combine gaming with social networking and location-based services on devices.
Intel and Nokia wouldn't be drawn on specific research projects calling it "premature go through all the scenarios we are starting to research."
The companies said that they're trying to create an "upstream pipeline of compelling R&D activity that can find its way into the market in a couple of manifestations."
One thing the duo did concede was that their joint lab will deliver a curriculum for MeeGo developers to try and establish Oulu as a center for MeeGo development.
Oulu University already has experience in open source and 3D and 2D development with its realXtend project. Described as a client-side stack, Oulu says realXtend will scale from devices to PCs and consoles and span 2D, Flash, and 3D. The university is building what it called a framework for flexible messaging and streaming media.
It's unclear whether realXtend will be used in the MeeGo work. ®