3D Web outreach, working together to bring the future closer

Wednesday March 4th was the Web3D Consortium's 2009 Outreach/Member meeting at NASA Ames research facility. The focus of the event was to reach out to those industries that use web3D, educate, and continue dialogue for how the 3D web open standard X3D and the Web3D Consortium can assist with some of the issues they are having and collaborate to advance the growth of these domains. A quick recap, web3D is any form of real-time interactive 3D. This includes virtual worlds, mirror worlds, augmented reality, simulation, web3D/mixed reality applications, and more. The Outreach event had a good turnout with those from both the web3D space, the virtual worlds industry, mirror worlds, and several web3D students.

Guest Speaker Jay Cee Straley from Sprint, presented us his insight on Web3D technology and standards for the mobile platform. He demonstrated some very cool applications of web3D and augmented reality for mobile devices. Don Brutzman (NPS) and I ran the X3D plugfest that showcased multiple pieces of X3D content working across multiple players. In addition to Don's examples from the web3D wiki, I tested content submitted from the average content creator including a high res 3D scene, interactive OQO model, and a World of Warcraft avatar.

I gave my slide presentation on our current outreach initiatives and student projects using a web3D scene created by Neil McGarry (an amazing web3D modeler). My report shared how the open standard for real-time interactive 3D and the Web3D Consortium are helping the global community in their exposure and transition to the 3D web and beyond.

"This year starts the launch of an aggressive global Outreach Initiative to bring the 3D web open standard into the hands of the next wave of creators and Internet users (slide1).

Across the world, the standard is growing in strength and adoption. Strength and stability comes from our partnerships with the W3C, ISO, Khronos, DICOM, and OGC. In Europe the web3D open standards have touched across almost all industries for years and are really pushing the limits of innovation for real world uses. European Consortium members like the Fraunhofer Institute are proving X3D's use beyond the web as the defining standard for augmented and mixed realities. Throughout Asia web3D chapters are forming in Korea, India, and Singapore as more join in their migration to the 3D web and support its standard. This year also starts our industry education outreach that focuses on bringing this innovative tech into classrooms and universities around the world. I have already begun this outreach here in the States and will begin expanding this into Asia with a trip there later this month.(slide2).

Here at home, the standard is also growing in adoption. Virtual worlds, which are one application of web3D, have brought interactive real-time 3D to the eyes and ears of the masses over the past couple of years and have proven the effectiveness of this form of media in various markets. But now this Industry is plagued with interoperability issues, shrinking corporate budgets, market saturation, and scalability issues. The Web3D Consortium has witnessed the troubles that plague the VW industry and has decided to collaborate with proactive VW leaders in the Virtual Worlds Roadmap initiative to help provide solutions to some of these issues. We look to keep the light bulbs of technological possibilities going off with what is proven interoperable, scalable, and ties more into the real world. We are also participating in the VWR working group Mixed Reality Museums and are announcing today two new members (Fraunhofer Institute and CAST) to this group (slide3). "

Another announcement I shared was an interview with Young Global Leader and famous Green Architect Cameron Sinclair who supports the X3D open standard for open source architecture (slide 4), and I covered applications and industry sponsored projects starting this year by web3D students (slide 5, not in pic).

The event was successful as it gave those coming from other domains the chance to ask questions and get better familiar with the web3D standard. One of the guests from the virtual worlds industry asked if it is too early for standards. The answer came back as, "the standard has been here for over 7 years." This is exactly the kind of education those in web3D's offspring industries need. The standard isn't something new. Web3D has been around long before the hype of the virtual worlds industry that started a few years back and now more are beginning to realize that. A technology that lacked the PR budgets of funded companies to publicize it is coming around as a solution that is time tested and proven.

The event also showcased work by invited presenters. Henrik Bennetson showed an exciting look at a open source project for virtual worlds that Stanford is working on. A great demonstration of a build-it-yourself virtual world platform that includes the ability to have a working web browser running in a 3D scene. Jeffrey Pope of the NGI Group gave an overview of the Virtual Worlds Roadmap, Danny Maco showed off ExitReality which supports X3D/VRML and quickly converts 2D websites into 3D scenes, Greg Howes presented on real world builders using Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM) and the need for standards for CAM models, Dan Miller covered OpenSim, and David Arctur of the Open Geospatial Consortium presented on CityGML. The last part of the event had different Web3D Consortium members give updates and show off applications that covered MedX3D (medical), H-Anim (avatar standard), X3D Earth, X3D networked worlds, and more.

The event had several web3D students that came to showcase work that included several highly detailed CAD models geo-referenced on X3D Earth (created by Tedd Robinson), an interactive Solar System where one could click on planets to learn more information (planet Earth was actually X3D Earth with orbiting moon), and a Learn the Bones application that showed the power of X3D for education in the medical field. Clicking on the bone brought up the bone's name with links to WebMD and Wikipedia about that bone. A great learning application created by various students headed by Brandon Edley (special thanks to aspiring medical student Jen Hawkins for her help on this project). These demos were hooked up to various game controllers and even a DDR (Dance Dance Revolution) pad. Nice work guys and gals!

A productive meeting, great outreach, and a good time. As the 3D web and mixed reality Metaverse continue to emerge, expect to see more of these events take place. X3D and those of the Web3D Consortium welcome all that want to collaborate to bring the future to the now. See you at the next event!

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