Computer Graphics World

April 2011

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■ ■ ■ ■ Web Graphics In 2004, on the 10th anniversary of his unveiling of VRML, Mark Pesce wrote in an article on the 3Dtest Web site: “No one talks about virtual reality anymore, except, maybe at SIGGRAPH, NASA, or in bad science-fi ction movies. But real-time 3D can be found in a few hundred million households, courtesy of Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo. No one calls it virtual reality, because it lacks the conspicuous clumsiness of head-mounted displays and data gloves. Thankfully. But make no mistake, whether it’s the imaginary world of EverQuest, Star Wars Galaxies, or GTA3, it’s all virtual reality—a mature technology used daily by hundreds of millions, on every continent.” Today, WebGL is bringing 3D on the Web to life in ways we could only imagine just a few years ago. SEVENTEEN YEARS AFTER THE INTRODUCTION OF VRML, 3D ON THE WEB IS GOING MAINSTREAM BY KATHLEEN MAHER Th e idea of immersive 3D has had a pull on people for as long as there have been screens, or looking glasses, wardrobes, rabbit holes, or caves. Humans are just never happy with the reality they’ve got. Around the turn of the last century, it looked as if whole WebGL support in next-gen browsers will bring life to 3D on the Web. Apple’s ManyPlanets demo, with spinning planets, gives us a taste of what’s to come. new worlds were opening up via 3D on the Web. Back then, from 1997 to 2001, we at Jon Peddie Research (JPR) con- ducted a series of studies, which were inspired by the arrival of Macromedia’s Shockwave (since purchased by Adobe), sup- port for 3D in a Web browser via Flash. We projected that we would see about a half billion devices capable of getting 3D on the Web by 2007. We got that right. We also expected to see the end of plug-ins, with 3D supported natively in brows- ers. We were a little early on that one. Right about the same time JPR was making predictions about 3D on the Web, the Khronos Group, a new standards 18 April 2011

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