So is there a much discussed killer application for Web3D? This is of course the 64 million dollar question. So far the Web3D consortium says no, but in the X3D notes, points to 10 broad application areas.
If I had to pick a single application that appears to be gaining momentum, I'd put my money behind ecommerce. Sites like SharperImage's (utilizing 3D Dreams) that allows potential customers to spin products around and interact with them, to a limited extent will surely become more common. Stimulating this trend is the recent "refocusing" of MetaCreations, creators of the MetaStream format. MetaCreations has one terrific trick up their sleeve also: authoring tools. Canoma, Bryce, Carrera and Poser all enable authors to create detailed 3D scenes, human figures and photorealistic environments which can be exported to MetaStream. Even more interesting is the recently released Minolta 3D 1500 camera that takes 3D pictures and outputs MetaStream.
In a recent poll I asked about characteristics of 3D for ecommerce.
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One as yet missing element to MetaStream is interactivity. Although the rumor mill claims that interactivity is coming in the next version, that remains to be seen. The ability to interact with movable parts of a product is very important, otherwise simply spinning the object around is slightly more valuable then a few photographs. In the VRML world Cybelius makes a suite of products specifically to address the interactivity of ecommerce type objects. It explicitly allows for the addition of behavior and is a terric niche product that addresses the need.
Well here's hoping that the year 2000 is less traumatic and more successful than 1999 for 3D on the Web.
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