XML3D: the 3D web's new champion?

3D Web

Researchers have added native support for 3D applications to HTML, and asked W3C to certify the technology as a standard

As Mozilla and Google push to bring native 3D rendering to the browser, a team of German researchers could beat them to the punch with XML3D.

In an impressive presentation at CeBIT, the team from Saarland University demonstrated the Venice Wikipedia page spiced up with a 3D scene of one of the city's palaces.

The scene was embedded into the page just as an image would be, but could be interacted with like any 3D application, allowing the team to take us on a seamless virtual tour through the palace, running without any noticeable lag or judder.

XML3D is an extension to HTML, and that means we use the same events as HTML; programmers can apply their knowledge to 3D without needing to become an expert in another language

According to project lead Professor Philipp Slusallek, what separates XML3D from competing projects, such as Google's O3D and Mozilla's WebGL, is that it simply extends HTML with a real-time raytracing algorithm.

"XML3D is an extension to HTML, and that means we use the same events as HTML; programmers can apply their knowledge to 3D without needing to become an expert in another language," said Slusallek.

Slusallek demonstrated XML3D on a version of Firefox modified to support the technology, and claimed the team would release the browser to the public in the next few weeks. A modified version of WebKit is also on the way.

Slusallek claimed he wanted to make 3D as ubiquitous on the web as images and video, and his team have already approached the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) in the hopes of making it a standard.

"We're ready to go, the technology works," he said.

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