back to article Google splits with Mozilla on 3D interwebs

One of the most heavily-flogged dead horses on the internet is getting 3D graphics into web browsers. But with Google now at the reins, maybe the old girl will actually come back to life. The Mountain View search firm this Tuesday afternoon released an experimental browser plug-in called O3D, which it hopes will get developers …


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  1. Jeremy
    Thumb Down

    Graphics cards

    So I tried it in a bog-standard off-the-shelf PC with an integrated Intel graphics processor. Won't work, says it's not supported. That's a huge swathe of the PC market, maybe half or more that come with cheap but reasonably powerful Intel graphics chipsets that are excluded automatically.

    I know Google love to rush to market and then fix things but surely getting to a point where most people can run it before releasing and asking to be taken seriously would have been wise.,,

  2. Nexox Enigma

    Oh, Good!

    I was just browsing some web sites recently, and I noticed that they were fairly small (500+KB) and loaded rather quickly (~15 seconds), with the added benefit that sheer mass of 'excellence' kept crashing my javascript engine, and I was thinking to myself "Damn, what this really needs is something in 3D. Maybe instead of showing me a page with thumbnails of products, this website could put each product image on the side of a cube, then put the cubes into a paint shaker, or possibly a medium-sized cement mixer. Then I'd finally enjoy the act of shopping for shoes on the Internet."

    No seriously though, can't we all just forget js and flash and go back to that web I once knew? Back when men were men and the only things that moved were animated gifs?

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oh yeah great.....................

    "To view this website you must have a pixel shader 3.0 complient graphics card"

  4. Adam Foxton

    Doing it the wrong way

    What they should do is have your web history- as already recorded by Google if you let them- mapped out in a 3D world. Rather than letting people clog up my internets with lots of 3D crap. And what about if I want to visit these sites on my mobile? Well, not mine as it's got a 3D accellerator chip. But most people.

    A full 3D visualisation of your web browsing history would allow you to- at a glance- see which sites you were at. Mapping the x,y co-ordinates so closer files (i.e. closer in folder structure) are closer together, different domains are separated by a decent distance and so on- and the Z axis as filesize would give a pretty impressive looking map of the internet.

    Annonymising this data (not particularly difficult) and sticking it into some sort of (probably Google) supercomputery thing would allow you to have a map showing different filesizes over time, which sites are most viewed (just at a glance), which sites link off to the most other sites, that sort of thing. With lines between the files to show links- colour coded to show the connection speed in relation to your average (so that dial-up users don't bias the results)- you could even get a good picture built up of which sites really needed to upgrade their internet connections. Or- with a bit of GeoIP style code- which geographical locations were bottlenecking the 'net.

    Could be a very useful tool for people like Google- and interesting for you and I. It could even probably help identify botnets if its scope was widened from just web traffic to all internet traffic. But we're just going to get 3D porn instead. Or LolCatCubes.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    That looks suspiciously like something from Myst

    which leads me to think that where this sort of technology is ultimately going to end up is online gaming: no problem with pirated copies of your game if it's entirely in the browser, eh?

  6. Edward Miles

    Yet another thing...

    ...I'll ignore thanks to NoScript.

  7. DutchOven

    It *is* actually useful

    I did my dissertation on this and I can tell you that 3D webpages have actually got useful applications in real life.

    Someone else has already noted usefulness of looking for relationships between web-sites, which may be why google is looking into it.

    It's useful in many other things too. A graphical representation tells 1000 words as they say. If you need to find other news stories which are related to the one you're reading, for example. The length of the lines connecting the nodes or the size of the nodes can be varied to indicate the relevance. Mouse over can reveal what the headline was, click to visit...

    Or family trees, zoom around in 3D and click on a member of the family to view their picture.

    Of course, that's just two applications (and both quite similar) the list really is endless. Google maps anyone....?

  8. DZ-Jay

    Re: It *is* actually useful

    But what you seem to forget (along with Google) is that the technology has been there already for a while, and what you say _has_ been tried before, though not necessarily on a web browser. These "solutions" ultimately are forgotten until some bright young mind re-discovers their theoretical potential at some future.

    Three-dimensional file viewers and the like sound like a great idea on theory, and there seems to be plenty of scientific studies that show that humans seem keen to spatial relationships within objects in the environment. However, none of it seems to hold a candle to the flat, hierarchical tree display, which ultimately seems to be a more intuitive way to display, say, hierarchical trees. Hierarchies, after all, are a human construct to mentally visualize relationships. The problem is that to start, by their nature, they are already flat in your head.

    This is probably the reason why, thoughout the history of civilizations, mankind has used flat surfaces to study and analize organization and taxonomy, as opposed to, say, using physical blocks spread throughout an open room. Apparently, there is a conciseness brought on by the flatness that aids in maintaining the scope of the entire structure on one's mind.

    Sure, there are specific uses for spatial and three-dimensional representations, and those have been pioneered by previous civilizations too (such as for engineering and anatomy), But these are not strictly hierarchical structures. And although they are very useful in the design of physical things, it is rather disengenious (or naive) to think that, since we *see* in 3-D, it must be easier to *work* in 3-D on all aspects of our lives. After all, who says that we *think* abstract concepts in 3-D at all?


  9. David Farinic

    3D has lot of space/potential to render data in usefull angle/view

    3D has lot of space/potential to render data in usefull angle/view, yet so little succeed...

    Maybe reason is that we want to do too much too soon... As a GUI developers knows...

    to make usefull 2DGUI application seems simple yet its so hard and one can not pretend his first idea is the best.

    In secondlife (dont think about it as game pls for a moment) there were lot of new ideas how 3d GUI can look like.. and actually in meetings where 30-60 ppl interacted with 3D GUI objects creators could see how ppl are using it.

    I had hope that project leaders behind secondlife would try to push it also as next gen 3D web

    however they stopped this trend 1,5 y ago

    Maybe we should try first make usefull desktop applications which use 3D GUI and only then move it to WWW... and keep in mind less is sometimes more!

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    What is 3D ? They are talking, IMHO, about 2D - look at the video, it doesn't leap out of the screen and you can't use specs to do achieve that.

    Perhaps 4D is the old 3D, and 3D is the old 2D.

    Google and the like are responsible for Climate Change - if we all need 4850 graphics cards to view web pages in the future.

  11. Anonymous Coward

    re: That looks suspiciously like something from Myst .....

    ...try searching for Quake may find this is being blown away already...

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I can think of some places where this might be useful - sometimes it's better to be able to visualise something in terms of it's colour or scale.

    Say the Dulux website has a paint your room widget where you can put in some basic dimensions and locations/facings of windows - pick your palette and paint your walls. Have options in the widget that simulate sunny days, cloudy days or electric lights at night-time. 3D engines do a passable job of simulating the effects of light sources.

    Or if you're buying furniture and want to get a rough idea of how big it will be in your room and so on. If it can find a viable commercial use, "3D in the browser" might actually survive one day - if they can make it bandwidth friendly enough.

  13. P. Lee
    Paris Hilton

    The main point of 3D is to make things difficult

    Where's 3D used most? In games. The object is to make the player acquire skill in order to establish a hierarchy of "who is good at this games."

    If you were making things easy, there would be an auto-target & fire function. The computer can do it quickly and easily.

    The other use for 3D is for visualisation - representing inherently 3D objects. So we have simulators, Pre-vis, and kitchen refitting models.

    Did I forget iframes with adverts?

    Now, remind me why we need a 3D web again?

  14. Wolf Clostermann

    Apparent competition

    "Yet oddly, Google's O3D API isn't compatible with Mozilla's current implementation. Google choosing to do their own thing doesn't sound like a terrific way to promote a unified standard at first blush — but the company seems to think an actual standard for 3D is a few years off and common ground will be arrived at later"

    Initially taking different approaches on a particular project can be beneficial. As with Compiz/XGL, apparently competing technologies can eventually come together to combine the best elements of both to create a mature product. Now, if only that could happen one day with those two, that would be nice. But the principle is sound.

  15. Wolf Clostermann

    Tried the plugin

    On IE7/Windows XP, Nvidia Quadro NVS (hey, my Linux machines are at home). It works impressively well considering the early state it's in. The code is easily examined by viewing the page source. I for one would be pretty pleased if this were to fill the niche currently occupied by the abysmal Adobe Flash, assuming Google plays nice with the open source community.

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  17. BioTube

    To those arguing for this crap

    It's unneeded and very rarely helpful. Maybe after holographic displays come along, but certainly not before then. The few good uses of it can use Java applets and not flood the web with pointless crap.

  18. jai

    re: Tried the plugin

    Oh yeah, if it proved to be a better alternative to Flash, that'd be good

    but i fear that it's being developed to make online 3d texas hold'em websites.

  19. Inachu
    Thumb Down

    OMG!!!! I really do Miss VRML!!

    Back in the 1990's it used to be so cool to move about and click here and there inside a web browser.

    The idea is still cool and kinda futureistic but the tools and framework still need to be developed properly. I can not see VRML as viable until maybe VRML version 8.0

    By then we all will be running a VRML version of WORLD OF WARCRAFT in our web browsers.


  20. Lukin Brewer

    Can't you just do this in Shockwave/Flash?

    Which is already present on most systems?

    (This is a rhetorical question, BTW. Of course you can.)

    Of course, Google can't buy out Macromedia and acquire SWF, because Adobe got there first...

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