June 15, 2006
What ever happened to the virtual reality, 3D world of the web? Back in the late 90s, all the hype was about VRMLVirtual Reality Markup Languagewhich would turn the web into an immersive environment that you'd maneuver around to get to the information you wanted. We're here to tell you that the reports of the 3D web's death are greatly exaggerated. As evidence, we present three 3D browsers that will use that graphics card for something other than gaming: 3B, Browse3D, and SphereXPlorer.
As further proof that the 3D web isn't dead, an XML format called X3Da free run-time architecture that can "represent and communicate 3D scenes and objects using XML" is starting to take hold. You can find more info about it from The Web3D Consortium which is very active in its efforts to add one more dimension to the web as we know it. There's even a mobile browser for X3D, so that you could, for example, navigate around a city you're visiting on your handheld PC.
And of course, as with everything to do with PCs these days, there's the Vista factor. Vista's DirectX 10 will change the landscape for 3D browsers. The Windows Presentation Foundation (formerly codenamed "Avalon") and XAML (eXtensible Application Markup Language) will allow 3D apps such as browsers to be programmed more easily than ever. For more on the Windows presentation foundation and its relationship with DirectX, check out Windows Presentation Foundation (Avalon) FAQ.
While X3D and Vista technologies may be the future of the 3D web, today we'll tackle a more modest goalevaluating browsers that use some aspect of 3D right here and now. In a future article, we'll look at some VRML and X3D browser plug-ins that let you do cool things like enter virtual chat worlds such as 3D Planets. Meanwhile, join us in doing what you do all the timebrowse the webbut this time in three glorious dimensions.
I think that I could save a lot of money by putting my monitor on an oscillating platform, first moving towards me and then moving away from me. Bingo, 3-D on the cheap, with no CPU slowdown. Sure, my eyes will likely give out soon, but I think that the blinding headaches will kill me first, so no biggy.
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