Google Offers 3D Rendering in the Browser

By Craig Buckler

Google O3DGoogle 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.

Google’s project provides an additional approach and the company hopes that applications such as Google Earth will eventually run directly from the web. Their open-source cross-browser plugin directly utilizes hardware-accelerated rendering. Developers can import 3D objects using the open-standard COLLADA format which is supported by SketchUp, 3ds Max, and Maya. Those objects can then be manipulated using a JavaScript API.

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?

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  • http://www.jasonbatten.com NetNerd85

    Interesting. Really that useful, no?

  • http://www.rgamers.com FizixRichard

    I can see the point in this, & can see many uses for 3D apps on the web. Particularly for online games (be they for entertainment or other purposes) and for visualization.

    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.

    Thing is, the Unity3D game engine already has a good 3D browser plugin for online 3D apps and an evolved SDK. It is widely used – I think it was Cartoon Network who have created an online game using Unity which runs from the browser & has Wii style visuals.

    So we can do these things now if we care to dig deeper and learn some new stuff.

  • http://www.deanclatworthy.com Dean C

    You’re a couple of weeks late ;)

  • momos

    X3D is the way to go…

  • Jdawg2k

    Imagine designing a website fully in 3D. Talk about the next level of user experience!

  • http://www.flashminddesign.com flashmind

    This almost seems more experimental than anything else. I truly would love to see it implemented into an actual website design. The problem is that it would take a lot of publicity, and some major sites to use it for it to actually get off the ground.

  • tiggsy

    I don’t think in 3d. Besides, I can’t really see what it would add to the average site. Will it make it go faster? I think not. Just as AJAX typically seems to make slow motion into an art form*, I reckon 3d will just add yet another layer of client-side processing into the mix, and corresponding sluggishness, for no real benefit.

    *I admit I usually have 50 tabs and at least 6 software programs running on the desktop, so sluggishness on some sites is entirely “my own fault”, but I need all of these available right away, and I don’t care how you run your website, so long as it doesn’t take 20 minutes to get my list of hosted domains, or whatever.

  • Ardi

    hhmmmm… looks promising.
    I might wanna experimenting this 3D web technology.

  • http://www.studio-gecko.com/ XLCowBoy


    Websites are already being done in 3D…


  • http://blog.thenetgen.com agentforte

    I see this as a way to create an interactive environment for corporate websites. A 3D office with live chat in different rooms would be cool. This would also be great for architecture firms.

  • tot2ivn

    Wow, can’t imagine how all the websites are 3D interactive :-?

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