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Nokia, Intel mobilize for 3D

Collaborative research lab and joint venture in Finland aim to bring the 3D Internet to mobile phones. Plus: Positive thoughts about MeeGo.

Intel and Nokia are teaming up to bring 3D to mobile devices.

The two are jointly setting up a research lab in Oulu, Finland, that will tap into the talents of local researchers to create a 3D environment for mobile devices, the companies announced in conjunction with the University of Oulu on Tuesday. Both companies see 3D Internet as the next major breakthrough in the mobile environment.

The new lab, dubbed the Intel and Nokia Joint Innovation Center, Oulu, will be located in the Center for Internet Excellence (CIE) at the University of Oulu, which Intel praised for its focus on telecommunications and electronics. Oulu itself boasts a strong development community with experience in 3D Internet and technology, according to Intel. The open-source RealXtend technology, used to create 3D virtual worlds and adopted by Finland-based Nokia, has its roots in Oulu.

"3D technology could change the way we use our mobile devices and make our experiences with them much more immersive," Rich Green, Nokia's chief technical officer, said in a statement. "Our new joint laboratory with Intel draws on the Oulu research community's 3D interface expertise and over time, will lay down some important foundations for future mobile experiences."

Though the first research project is eyeing 3D technology, the overall goal behind the lab is to create new mobile interfaces that can harness the more robust processing and graphics power found in today's mobile devices. With some research already starting this month, the work is slated to continue for the next three years.

The CIE will host and operate the Intel and Nokia Joint Innovation Center, Oulu, while the two companies will kick in the research and technology expertise as well as the funding. Tekes, the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation, will also provide some additional investment as it's already worked with both Nokia and the University of Oulu in the past.

The new venture by Nokia and Intel continues the partnership forged by the two companies in such projects as MeeGo, announced in February. Combining Nokia's Maemo software and Intel's Moblin operating system, MeeGo is being positioned as a new OS to power a host of gadgets, including Netbooks, tablets, TVs, and in-car systems. The two first announced a pact to jointly develop new technologies and products more than a year ago.

On Tuesday, Intel and Nokia said that the MeeGo initiative is off to a good start. "The MeeGo community is active, vibrant," said Intel Labs Europe head Martin Curley, according to Reuters.