Leaked shots of Nokia's upcoming N9 phone show it running MeeGo. The Linux distro can also be installed on N900 handsets.  (Source: YouTube (video has since been removed))

Intel brags that MeeGo offers better Atom support than Windows 7.  (Source: CNET)
Joint lab will also look at cooking up new smart phone graphical user interfaces

Back in February at the Mobile World Congress, Intel and Nokia announced that they were merging their Moblin (Intel) and Maemo (Nokia) Linux distributions into a single distribution dubbed MeeGo.  MeeGo was intended both to be an ideal graphics-rich OS for smartphones, most of which run ARM processors. It would also be an optimized OS for netbooks/tablets that sport Intel's Atom (x86) mobile processor, which Windows 7 only weakly supports according to Intel.

Now Intel and Nokia, along with the University of Oulu, have announced that they're opening a joint lab dubbed "the Intel and Nokia Joint Innovation Center" in Oulu, a city in central Finland.  Finland is Nokia's home country.

One of the lab's top priorities will be to develop new open source 3-D Linux skins and interfaces.  The goal here is to allow the user to employ "real world" gestures to accomplish meaningful tasks.  While that objective may seem a little nebulous, you can look to recent Google acquisition BumpTop for an example of how gestures and a 3-D OS skin can improve the user experience.  MeeGo's experimental extensions will likely follow a similar path.

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

Another exciting possibility that the pair hopes to pursue at the lab is to try to develop holographic video calling technology.  Nokia's N900 smartphone, released in November 2009, supports traditional video calling.  Apple has since released the iPhone 4 and HTC has released the EVO 4G which are both capable of video calling.

Holograms were invented in 1947 by Hungarian-British physicist Dennis Gabor who later received a Nobel Prize in Physics for the work.  Holograms are an optical illusion that allows a 2D image to appear to project a 3D form out of a surface.  Holographic calling could literally add a new dimension to faces and other features in video calls or multimedia texts.

Currently only one smartphone -- the N900 -- is officially supported by MeeGo.  The N900, which traditionally runs on Nokia's previous OS, Maemo 5, is compatible with MeeGo 1.0 and 1.1.  A number of netbook devices including the ASUS Eee PC, HP Mini, Dell Mini10, MSI U100, and Acer Aspire One can all run MeeGo 1.01, which is the latest non-touch release (1.1's updates are primarily for handhelds).

Nokia and Intel are currently cooking up MeeGo 1.2, which will likely be rolled out to more handsets.  Leaked video shows the OS running on Nokia's upcoming N9 smartphone, the company's super-powered successor to the N900.  Linux fans can also try out the MeeGo distro for their netbooks here.

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