3D in a browser, now Google’s turn again.

After Khronos group’s initiative that we commented recently, and after premature retirement of Lively (browser-based, but requiring a client installation), here’s a new initiative from Google towards “web 3D for all”, that we are glad to notice. But let’s see what is it all about:

What is O3D ?
It’s an open source API which enables creating 3D web applications using JavaScript, which works with a plug-in the user has to install on top of the browser.
Similar to Canvas 3D JS Library from Mozilla, and many other plug-in-requiring web 3D platforms (Active-X based or client based), O3D is shader-oriented, which means that experimented 3D developers will be able to achieve advanced rendering effects.

Is this a new web 3D platform ? No it’s not a platform at the same level as 3DXplorer, as it’s not offering the full 3D engine, although offering an excellent rendering engine. Moreover, there are no avatars, no multi-user session, nor chat or even a synchronous networking environment.

Which companies or technologies is this announcement aiming at:
Not only Adobe’s Flash and Microsoft’s Silverlight are concerned by this initiative, but even upper layer development  platforms requiring plug-ins are clearly aimed at, including all 3D web platforms with client installations and active-X, especially those targeting developers (Unity, 3Dvia,…)

What are other pros and cons of O3D:
Pros:
•    A great rendering engine.
•    Another initiative supporting the trend towards browser-based web3D
Cons:
•    Still requires a plug-in to be installed for the player. The market will most likely refuse it unless for very motivated users (gamers?)
•    Can’t hide the Javascript code. Most programmers  would like to protect their programs Javascript and publish their code for free.

Google’s intention is a belief that web3D is going to be browser-based, open and thin. Google actually recognizes that it would be even great without a plug-in, hoping that the plug-in will be adopted (3DXplorer is already plug-in-less). In all cases, O3D is only going to accelerate the emergence of the web 3D applications for all computers. Looking forward to seeing it in action.

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