Nokia, Intel focus on 3D and virtual reality for mobile devices

University of Oulu in Finland to be home for research group using MeeGo OS

Intel, Nokia and Finland's University of Oulu announced today that they are developing a joint research center to create software for 3D and virtual reality experiences for use on mobile devices.

The software will be developed by about 24 engineers in Oulu using the open-source MeeGo operating system, which was launched in February by Intel and Nokia. An early version of the MeeGo mobile phone OS went to developers in late June. The companies said in a conference call that they envisioned 3D and virtual reality software running on a broad range of mobile devices, including smartphones and tablets.

The university has a reputation for its work on electronics, photonics and telecommunications. Oulu researchers also work with an open-source virtual reality platform known as realXtend, the officials said.

"3D and virtual worlds have the potential to revolutionize the [mobile] user experience," said Mika Setala, Nokia's director of strategic alliances and partnerships.

One of the earliest practical applications for the software will be to develop a virtual control panel for a mobile device to regulate heating and lighting in a real world home, Setala said. "The real world [will be] mimicked for heating and lighting... and power," he said. No timeline was announced.

Creating social networks within virtual worlds for mobile devices coupled with GPS and other location information "will be a killer app or at least very successful," said Heikki Huomo, director of the university's Center for Internet Excellence. "Consumers will feel more involved and engaged with these technologies."

Martin Curley, director of Intel Labs in Europe, said the focus of the research center will be on building open-source software that complements Intel's chips. He also didn't rule out the possibility that the software could give rise to new Nokia devices on future Intel chip architectures.

An avatar watches Youtube in a virtual world
An avatar watches Youtube in a virtual world created using the RealXtend open-source platform. Nokia, Intel and Finland's University of Oulu are working on making similar virtual worlds possible via mobile platforms.
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