Google has released a new experimental browser plugin that makes it possible to display and animate detailed graphical 3D objects and environments directly in the browser.
3D browser-based technologies appear to be on the rise. Mozilla are working on a similar 3D plugin project and ID Software recently released Quake Live, a web-based version of their ground-breaking game.
Although this offers another 3D technology, Google admits that a standardized 3D web API is likely to be several years away and developers should only use O3D for experimentation at this early stage. However, they suspect O3D and the Mozilla Canvas 3D extension could eventually converge to create a single unified platform.
3D déjà vu?
Browser-based 3D is not new. In the mid-1990′s, VRML (Virtual Reality Modeling Language) was heralded as being the next big thing on the web, but the technology never became as widespread as expected.
Developing 3D applications is not easy, but perhaps these projects will highlight the potential of a 3D web environment? It is another matter whether web users can see the benefits and are ready to make the leap from 2D.
Will you try experimenting with 3D web development? Could your web application make use of the technology?