A 3D web moves closer to reality

A 3D internet is coming closer to a reality as Mozilla, the developer of the Firefox browser partners with graphics consortium Khronos.

Khronos has set up a working group to create a standard accelerated 3D graphics on the web. This could lead to widespread browser-based gaming and 3D environments in social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace.

A 3D-enabled web could provide a kickstart for virtual world games such as Second Life thinks Paul Jackson, an analyst with research firm Forrester.

"Social networks could create 3D chatrooms and retailers could provide proper 3D visualisations of their products," he said.

"If you think about the traditional browsing experience of flat pages and links this is not a natural way to interact. People are much more used to walking around and picking things up so a 3D browser could lead eventually to a more naturalistic way of interaction," he said.

"One of the things which puts people off virtual worlds is that it requires users to make very big downloads to install the games," he said.

The development of the standard being proposed by Mozilla will create a mechanism to let JavaScript tap into the OpenGL graphics interface technology.

The ultimate aim is to produce a first public version within a year.

"For a number of reasons, I think now is the time to figure out what an initial take of 3D on the web should look like," said Mozilla's infrastructure engineer Vladimir Vukicevic in his blog.

Browser-based games are beginning to take-off and, in February, classic game Quake III was re-released specifically for the browser.

Having them available directly from a web browser would eliminate this and have much wider implications for non-gamers.

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