The partnership seeks to accelerate the development of open standards to promote the creation of more digital 3D environments.
The project will look at secure transactions and ways to increase the stability and quality of service of 3D platforms. The companies will also seek to introduce interoperability by creating universal avatars.
Most 3D platforms currently lack interoperability. A Second Life player, for example, cannot stroll around in a Google Maps projection.
Such interoperability would allow 3D worlds to rapidly increase their appeal, argued Collin Parris, vice president for digital convergence at IBM.
"As the 3D internet becomes more integrated with the current web, users will demand more from these environments and want virtual worlds that are fit for business," he said.
3D applications are believed to offer a better user experience than traditional 2D environments.
IBM kicked off a research initiative last year to further explore 3D internet applications as part of a larger project.
Sun Microsystems is eyeing the 3D internet as a way to enable employee collaboration.
The firm released an open source project earlier this year called Wonderland which offers a 3D platform similar to Second Life's.
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