The VRML Consortium has renamed itself the Web3D Consortium and is meeting in Palo Alto, California, later this week to discuss the future of three dimensional (3D) graphics on the Web.
The Consortium, which includes Microsoft, Sony and Platinum Technology, has just ratified an expanded charter for the group and hopes to draft a new standard by the middle of next year.
This will build on its work with the Virtual Reality Mark-up Language (VRML) and possibly even on parts of Microsoft?s ditched Chromeffects effort.
This week, consortium members will vote on the organisation?s new technological direction, the requirements of a new 3D Web standard and the procedures for a new standards process.
Neil Trevett, the Consortium?s president, who is also 3Dlabs? vice president, said the new standard would not be monolithic like VRML, even though the group had learned a lot from working on it.
As a result, the group is likely to approve plans to develop a set of component standards, which are compatible with each other and other Internet standards such as the eXtensible Mark-up Language (XML), the Document Object Model (DOM) and MPEG 4.
This is intended to enable vendors to implement a scaled-down version of the standard for use in non-PC devices such as set-top boxes or other Internet appliances.
The standard is also likely to offer at least some backwards compatibility with VRML, but Trevett hopes to extend the language using technology from various consortium members, including Microsoft.
In recent weeks, Microsoft has said it aims is to bring some elements of Chromeffects to market over the next few months and years, and Trevett is hopeful that this might happen within the Web3D framework.
"Perhaps some of the good stuff that came out of Chromeffects can find a place in this next generation of the standard," he said. He also hopes that the draft specification for a new standard will be complete by August 1999, in time for the Siggraph trade show in Los Angeles. This would mean the first implementations could hit the market by the end of next year.
But 3D technology for the Web has not had an easy time of it. VRML never caught on, partly because of slow performance, then it was overtaken by Microsoft, which proposed Chromeffects, its own proprietary technology.
Chromeffects was widely rejected by Web developers, however, because it was a Windows-only offering and required high performance hardware. This led Microsoft to ditch the offering last month.
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