FutureWire - futurism and emerging technology

Monday, June 26, 2006

3D Web Browsing Makes a Comeback

Remember the hype surrounding Virtual Reality Markup Language (VRML) and how all the next-generation Web browsers were going to be three-dimensional? Well, the 3D buzz is coming back -- but will it be more than just talk this time around?

New technologies, greater bandwidth and more computing power are behind the latest efforts to incorporate 3D into the browsing experience -- an effort that, its supporters say, was simply ahead of its time back in the '90s. An XML-based 3D coding architecture called X3D, along with 3D application support in the Windows Presentation Foundation (aka: Avalon) that's expected to be a part of the Vista OS, offer a new framework for 3D tools of all kinds. Also, a new generation of 3D browsers such as 3B offers rich browsing environments.

But beyond the technical improvements, 3D browsing is still hampered by the fact that, aside from certain uses, it remains the proverbial hammer in search of a nail. Most people are comfortable with the 2D browsing environment, and find three dimensions disorienting and unnecessary. Gamers and those already accustomed to 3D environments may find 3D browsers appealing (expect players in youth markets to take the lead in experimenting with 3D websites), and 3D browsing has a role in education and simulation training. But otherwise, 3D browsers will likely remain a niche item, used only in situations that call for a rich navigation space.

Source: Extremetech