3D & XR

Physical Plain: The definitive AR/VR file browser solution

May 26, 2021
By Cody Pallo

My last project "ZinePub" was a file browser in the form of a physical book. I started building a version of this as an iOS app with a binder that has markers on 50 pages of tab dividers. The idea was to make a way to traverse documents that could display any file type projected on a book page. Books could be swapped out on a bookshelf and bookshelves could be library inspired only one could put the shelves anywhere. The reason I like this idea is not just because I worked in a library in college, although that factors in. More because I have mega media collection of audio, art, and design that I’ve amassed from University websites and libraries. Somewhere around 20K Image and 20K mp3s and I know people with much much more. I figure this concept will work for any file; Video, Word Processing Docs, USDZ, 2D and 3D interactive websites, etc. 

Computers still lack the means to sufficiently organize my media in a truly intuitive way. I feel we don’t need a new paradigm for this concept of organizing papers. The book in and library ideas work well for massive amounts of info. Just like we had this concept of the virtual desktop and file cabinet that sorted virtual paper or the phone with a touch screen instead of buttons. I think these 2D ideas served their purpose even if they are really flawed. Clicking things with an arrow via a mouse isn’t a great way to get around the screen, Its detached. Also with little touch screens and tiny keyboards, there are only so many typos and screens I have to go through to get things done before I start to get annoyed. I’m not saying AR/VR isn’t deeply flawed in these departments too, the idea of selecting things and typing has been an issue since day one. The best interfaces though seem to evolve from the ones built on the ideas of primitive times. 

To get back to my project. I stopped because the idea seemed too profound to me for it to not to either be already in production somewhere or someone would just take it after I make it. Yet, recently I’ve decided to keep going anyway. I think it’s very probable that someone will create this (books in a library) browser, only without the physical book. The only reason I have a physical book for it here is because I don’t have an input device for AR on my phone other than the touch screen. That said, the dial on the Apple Watch could flip pages very well on a virtual number display. Or hand detection could allow you to swipe your finger down your wrist or palm to change the page number up and down.

Essentially the book could be completely virtual. Imagine putting together a photo album and then sharing it with others in the room but also being able to spawn other copies and send that book to other people on the other side of a teleconference. A benefit might be having multiple people in the same room reading the same brief on different copies of virtual books with all the same content and then saving that book on a virtual book shelf of their own. Maybe even granting multiple editing access so that all people can see and do edits live, like google docs. The idea of USDZ is particularly noteworthy. It’s very similar to an AR webpage so one could have a catalog with applications embedded on pages. USDZ or Reality files should really be the basis of the future of application formats.  I should be able to put that application on a dashboard or in a book with other applications.

This is how I see an operating system working. Unfortunately, building an operating system in this day and age is insanity. You just cant compete, the work needed is monumental. I think this article wraps up a lot of the progress I’ve made since my last article “ZinePub” in February 2021. I have shared this with a lot of noteworthy industry people and the likelihood that I’ll get much recognition is slim. That’s why I’ve decided to finish my simple marker based book app. Because at the very least it’s a portfolio piece.