We are ready for transparent 3D Internet

The next logical step in the evolution of the Web is to fully integrate 3D content and thereby provide a fully immersive user experience. Today, several plugins are available that will display 3D in a Web browser. But, these solutions are not universally available across platforms, and they do not integrate in a transparent way with the existing Web 2.x model, tools and infrastructure. At the Intel Visual Computing Institute (IVCI) at Saarbrücken, Germany, we are developing ways to easily include 3D objects, scenes into Web pages, and render them on all compute devices, operating systems/browsers, and to integrate them with today’s Web content creation and programming methods. If you’re interested in the full range of research done at IVCI, the Web site at http://www.intel-vci.uni-saarland.de has all the latest information. We have already shown our initial results at Research at Intel Day 2011. 

We would like to utilize Intel Developer Forum (IDF) as an opportunity to introduce to you the latest advancements in our 3D web project and please do stop by Intel Labs Pavilion to interact with the 3D web.

For the 3D Web, the first task is to define a method how to “code” 3D scenes. Here, the IVCI approach is a declarative one – our XML3D language describes all components of the scene, including the 3D objects, their positions and transformations, textures and surface properties, shaders, lights and cameras. XML3D is based on XML and fits very nicely into HMTL5 – all the scene components become parts of the HTML domain object model, exactly like text, 2D graphics and videos today. And, all the established ways of “Web programming” naturally extend to the 3D scenes – it is, for instance, extremely simple to change the position of a 3D object from Javascript, and flying that spaceship along a trajectory is straightforward. And, the color and surface properties can be changed via CSS, with zero programming effort involved.

Procedural approaches like WebGL do require deep knowledge of graphics programming (like OpenGL) that is not normally available with Web content developers and programmers. XML3D does not require any new (to a Web developer) programming skills – only knowledge of content creation tools that help to create the scene description.

On the client side, the IVCI team has produced extensions to the Firefox and Chromium browsers that parse the XML3D language and render the 3D scenes in a browser window. The beauty of a scene description (rather than an OpenGL program) is that the browser can select the right rendering method for any given device, and the same scene description will look best on a wide range of devices. Our prototype browser extensions support a highest quality ray tracing renderer, WebGL and OpenGL ES.

At IDF, we are showing end to end demos of a 3D shopping experience, a virtual museum and a car configurator. You can find us in the Intel Labs pavilion, booth 5080 in the exhibition hall.

Complete information about the 3D Web project can be found on http://www.xml3d.org.

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