Famo.us, launching today at TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco and brought to you by the same guy who founded PowerSet (Steve Newcomb), lets developers write fully 3D apps without having to depend on complex programming tricks or compiled apps. It’s a lot like the interfaces you see in Iron Man or Minority Report, and it works on nearly any platform, including desktops, Android, and iOS.
The system works by communicating directly with the GPU, which allows for speedy, high performance. Developers can use pre-designed templates, or develop their own, for various interfaces and simply feed their images or data into the models. The math involved with developing a 3D virtual world — at least one that performs well and follows the laws of physics — is incredibly dense, so you’d naturally assume that the coding language is foreign to most.
The idea is that Famo.us will let developers use its engine to create 3D templates, but there’s one condition. The templates have to be open-source, so that everyone can build off of them and enjoy them. Eventually, when enough developers have made enough templates (and thus, apps) for Famo.us, the company will stitch them all together to create a 3D world.
Thus the name Famo.us. The company wants to let developers build something that’s never been seen before, and eventually, become famous.
So imagine your Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook living in a 3D gesture-based interface. Now take it a step further. Imagine your email with a more prominently placed priority inbox, and less important messages in the background. And it can go even further than that, all the way down to the simplest of the apps: your file manager.
Q & A:
Judges: Cyan Banister (Zivity), Kevin Rose (Google Ventures), Scott Weiss (Andreessen Horowitz), Greg Yaitanes (Emmy Award-winning director and angel investor)
GY: So, it makes stuff you build on the web browser in 3D?
Famo.us: It works in 2D mode or 3D mode as well. It just takes a flip of a switch.
GY: So those could be my photos in your interface?
GY: In visual effects and 3D modeling, I see that a lot, so you’re just saying you’ve brought that to the browser.
CB: What’s the most exciting app developers are creating for it?
Famo.us: I see anything visual in there. Something like Pinterest, Instagram, anything visual. I’m not the guy that is going to make the killer app. I’m an infrastructure guy.
We’re just offering an engine that’s capable of rendering this type of performance in the browser, in an app, on iOS, Android, or a game console.
KR: I’m still trying to understand what’s the big thing? I’ve seen my Apple TV do that.
SW: So is it all open sourced?
Famo.us: That’s the rule. The engine is closed, so we don’t share that with developers. But they have complete access to the tools, and any template they make must be open source as well, so that everyone can enjoy and explore 3D.
SW: It felt a little Swiss Army Knife to me. Everything you said seems possible. Do you have a main focus or a main thrust? Looks like it’s searching for a use case.
SW: Is there any area you’re going to attack?
Famo.us: We’re coming at people trying to compete with native through HTML5. They now have another weapon in their arsenal to compete on the web with highly performant apps.
Famo.us is led by Steve Newcomb, who is best known for founding Powerset, which was sold to Microsoft and is now part of Bing. Famo.us was started in 2011 and is well funded by some of the most prominent entrepreneurs and venture capital companies in the Valley. Famo.us is building a development infrastructure that enables developers to create 2D and 3D gesture based interfaces and deploy them to any mobile, desktop or living room device.
I love to think of entrepreneurs as heros of a sort. To imagine a single person that starts with a simple idea and then turns that idea into a permanent monument of human accomplishment - that is beautiful. To imagine a single human being having the guts to hold themselves responsible for affecting so many lives through employment, through their product and through the shear, raw, and direct power of money - that is my kind of benevolence. To...