Ask.com is touting its Ask3D search, which is more of a different way of organizing search results than an actual 3-D interface. If you have Microsoft's Vista operating system, the much-hyped Aero interface is a better indication of where 3-D is going. Look to the free 3-D browser Space-Time to bring you a more refined vision of this technology.
"Visualization is a natural way to search. We really believe [3-D] is the way people will search and browse in the future," says Eddie Bakhash, founder and CEO of SpaceTime. The browser requires decent computer system resources and benefits from a fast internet connection, but the visual experience is several steps beyond normal web browsing. Search results appear as whole web pages that are stacked into the distance, and users can move between them easily. The browser also has a lot of potential for image and eBay searches--users could flip quickly through pictures to find what they want. Browsing images in this way makes a lot of sense.
The technology of 3-D could be the next big step in web search, especially as it is refined and as higher-end graphics cards and faster broadband become widespread. "We're going to [integrate] the SpaceTime interface into the desktop as well, but we felt web content is such a big space, we should do that first," says Bakhash. Entrepreneurs who want to get a jump on the future can download the 3-D browser at spacetime.com. SpaceTime may be a little ahead of the curve, but it's a very functional glimpse at the future of 3-D interfaces.