BumpTop, a new way to visualize your desktop

~ 28 June 2007 ~

Image showing BumpTop desktop

BumpTop, “a fresh and engaging new way to interact with your computer desktop,” is a working prototype from the mind of Anand Agarawala, former computer science grad at University of Toronto.

Watch the TED Talk video and I’m positive you’ll be impressed. For those of you who have heard me talk about “Uncle Don,” this is precisely the physical metaphor he was trying to mimic being a first-time computer user.

While you’re there, be sure to check out the fascinating talk from Hans Rosling, another name familiar to those who’ve heard me speak recently.



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Stock photography, type, and killer tees. Genuinely recommended by Authentic Boredom.

1   kirkaracha ~ 28 June 2007

“We can do cool things with graphics” != “We can do useful things with graphics”

2   Adam Spooner ~ 28 June 2007

Wow. Add multi-touch (that is, don’t replace the keyboard, just add multi-touch) and it would even more interesting/life-like.

3   Thomas Aylott ~ 28 June 2007

If it’s supposed to be something for working with icons… forget it. But if it’s for working with windows of running applications. Yes, absolutely!

4   Ken Hurd ~ 28 June 2007

Once he started playing with the photos it started to remind me very much of ‘Surface‘… Perhaps that sort of thing will be the next extension/merge between an iPhone-esque touch-based interface and traditional desktop management.

Apple has actually incorporated some of the features (like stacking) into Leopard as well.

5   Aaron ~ 28 June 2007

I think it’s interesting, but won’t be replacing the traditional desktop anytime soon. On a multi-touch display it could be pretty cool though.

It supposedly applies real-world physics to the desktop, but I’m not so sure. I don’t know about you, but when I move things on my desk I don’t slide them around and slam them into other things on my desk. I don’t wad up pieces of paper and set them in the corner in case I want to keep them later.

I like my computer desktop to be more organized than my real desk, not the other way around. We’ll see…

6   Cameron Moll ~ 28 June 2007

By posting this I didn’t necessarily intend to suggest that this is how we need to consider working with icons moving forward, or even windows.

Rather, this type of thinking transfers metaphors from the physical world to the computing world. There’s plenty of debate about whether that’s a wise move or not, but to users new to computing (which are rare in industrialized parts of the world to be sure, but my Uncle Don was one of these), the idea of directories, file types, desktop, etc can be really confusing.

My uncle would have eased into computing much easier had something like BumpTop been available when he first started…

7   Adam H ~ 28 June 2007

On another note the TED video player is pretty great. Very functional interface and smooth video.

I really enjoy Tony Robbins’ TED talk.

8   Grover ~ 28 June 2007

He’s been pushing this interface for many years now and like Ken, I thought of this when I saw Apple’s stacks. That being said, while it certainly demos well, it doesn’t come close to replacing the functionality of an existing OS.

For example, thing of how many pictures you have on your computer right now. Now think of trying to sort through and organizing all of them in this manner. It works great for a few dozen, not a few thousand.

9   Steve Wilson ~ 29 June 2007

I would take it over a traditional desktop any day. I wonder if you can skin it with desktop backgrounds?

10   Andropen ~ 29 June 2007

Alternative desktops cann’t replace the traditional windows desktop now. Maybe in future with more complex integration with web servises alternative desctops will be common

11   Nicki ~ 29 June 2007

Hi Cameron,
You are right with your comment. If the computer world started out with this way, more people might be open to the technology instead of fear it. Having a hands on and very interactive approach is much easier to learn from than a non interactive or limited interactive approach.

12   Rajesh ~ 01 July 2007

where can i found this software to download?. I’m really impressed…


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