New Release, 3DXplorer V4.04.06 is Live!

3DXPlorer V4.04.06 point release includes important feature enhancements and additions that refine both a developer’s and site visitor’s experience!

  • Separated Keyboard/Mouse Control —  Users can now navigate and move throughout 3DXPlorer spaces using either the keyboard or mouse independent of each other.  This makes navigation much easier for everyone, but especially new users and those already familiar with standard PC gaming navigation.
  • Help Button Removed From Action Menu —  A “Help” button is located in the upper left corner of all 3DXplorer spaces (and, in all modes), making access easiest.
  • Save Scene Pop-Up —  From “Edit” mode, when saving a scene, a pop-up appears to confirm that the scene has been saved (a reminder to publish the scene is also provided).
  • 3DS Max 2009’s COLLADA Compatibility —  3DXPlorer is now compatible with all versions of COLLADA, including 3DS Max 2009, which introduced some major changes in the file structure.

And, to use the new release just download… wait, what?  download… noooooo!  To use the new release you don’t need to download or do anything differently… just click on any 3DXPlorer space and the newest version is loaded automatically… remember its the first “plug-in-less” browser-based immersive and interactive 3D Online platform!

3DXplorer Worlds – Real, Imaginary or Both

If you haven’t checked out our Featured Websites page lately, we’ve added some interesting 3D worlds created by 3DXplorer users.

Here are two in particular that show the flexibility of 3DXplorer and web 3D in general, but also give some insight into potential applications.

The first is a real place, the Taj Mahal in Agra India, created by one of our partners GoWeb3D. You can visit it by clicking on the image below.

Taj Mahal in 3DXplorer

Taj Mahal in 3DXplorer

The second world is an imaginary space created in 3DXplorer by a a Quad ATV enthusiast, Eric Etienne. 

Quad ATV World by Eric Etienne

Quad ATV World by Eric Etienne

3D spaces or worlds can represent real places, whether they exist now, existed in the past or will exist in the future.  All you need is a 3D model, and since 3DXplorer supports importing common data formats in COLLADA and 3DS, a variety of popular and easily accessible 3D modeling tools can be used, including SketchUp, Revit, 3ds Max, Maya, etc.  The Taj was modeled in SketchUp by the way.

In industries where 3D modeling is used, for instance, markets that use CAD, such as AEC (Architecture, Engineering and Construction), the idea of discussion and reviewing models online has been around for a while.  This is often referred to as a design review, and typically consists of discussing the object being designed, in this case the 3D model.  In the AEC space this is usually a building or structure.

This sort of traditional design review is one use of 3DXplorer, which, of course, brings along the benefit of being immersed in the 3D space.  In other words, one or more people can enter the 3D space and walk around, visually inspect the space, discuss chat, speak via Skype, etc.

3DXplorer, however, offers another interesting opportunity.  Now the 3D space — the building or structure that has been modeled in 3D — can be the environment for discussion, in addition to being the object of discussion.

This now creates all sorts of new uses for a 3D model, allowing the creator to repurpose and extend the value of their investment in creating the 3D model.  Imagine a home builder who wants to meet with customers or prospects, why not do it within one of the home designs created by the builder?  Or what about a group interested in Indian architecture, why not get together at the Taj?  Check out Google’s 3D Warehouse for literally thousands of buildings, many of which you’ll recognize.  In addition, to the Taj, some other worlds on our Feature Websites page came from the 3D Warehouse, can you figure out which?

And what about imaginary spaces?  All this applies to them as well, but with the added element of the space or world being pretty much whatever you can conceive and model, customized with colors, textures and 3D objects that reinforce a particular theme or interest of visitors.  Eric’s Quad ATV space is a nice example.

So what can you imagine?

3DXplorer V4 Live – Multiuser 3D worlds with Avatars and User-Generated Content!

Well the big news this month is that 3DXplorer V4 has been released and is live at www.3dxplorer.com.

With V4 now any 3D world can now be “avatar enabled” allowing multiple visitors to explore and interact in real-time with avatars on any computer and browser.  So 3DXplorer is now multiuser, one of the remaining key features we have been working hard to get out the door.

Virtual Benaroya Hall with Avatars

Virtual Benaroya Hall with Avatars

Visitors are now able to define their “universal avatar” once and enter any virtual world, 3D web site or casual game with the same avatar or personality.

AVW Headquarters with Avatar

AVW Headquarters with Avatar

An integrated avatar configurator allows visitors to choose their avatar’s sex, face, hair, clothes and accessories such as hats or glasses.

3DXplorer Avatar Configurator

3DXplorer Avatar Configurator

Avatars support a variety of animated actions, moods and interactions with other avatars, including walking, running, head shakes for yes and no, handshakes, hugs, laughing, yawning, dancing and more. Text chat along with integrated Skype calling is also supported.

 

In addition to choosing to enable avatars, you can limit the number of avatars that may enter a world, as well as protecting worlds with a password. New avatars can be created with a free avatar creation kit that includes guidelines for new avatars, as well as 3ds Max models of standard avatar skeletons.

You can check out the 3DXplorer V4 demonstration video here.

Examples of 3D virtual worlds created in 3DXplorer that are avatar-enabled can be visited at the following links: 

Seattle’s Benaroya Hall

Association of Virtual Worlds

Avalonn Picasso museum

Note that the first is the virtual Benaroya Hall mentioned in a previous blog post, and the second is the virtual Headquarters of the Association of Virtual Worlds whose Executive Director Dave Elchoness had the following to say:

“3DXplorer V4 just took a giant leap forward with its multiuser environment and support for live, custom avatars.  Now any web site can include an interactive 3D world, like a corporate web site staffed by company greeters who can answer questions or show off realistic 3D products, and all you do is click a link. It’s because of this accessibility that the Association of Virtual Worlds selected 3Dxplorer V4 for its virtual headquarters.” 

All you have to do to create your own avatar is to sign up at www.3DXplorer.com  in the upper left “Get a 3D Avatar” section.  Also, if you already have a 3DXplorer world, sign in to the “Build Your Own 3D World” section at the upper right, and edit your world to enable avatars.  And of course, to create a new 3D world, just sign up for free.

This brings up a question I have gotten from time to time.  Why have two logins?  Well, while many businesses or individuals will do both – create avatars and 3D worlds – it won’t always be the case.  In fact, we believe it will be commonplace for many users to simply want to create an avatar to visit existing 3D worlds without having to set up an account to allow them to create their own worlds. It is similar tro the difference between an end user and a developer.  Of course, it’s easy to do both, we just wanted it to be drop dead simple to create an avatar with minimal information required from the user.  To create an avatar, all you need to do is pick a name for your avatar and choose a password.  No other info is required, although there are fields for optional information like an email address so we can send you updates and announcements , Skype ID for integrated Skype calls and so on. 

3DXplorer V4 also extends support for user-generated content using commonly available design and modeling tools by adding the ability to import 3D data in the popular COLLADA format. Modeling tools supporting COLLADA include Maya, 3ds Max, LightWave 3D, Softimage|XSI; Houdini; MeshLab, SketchUp, Blender and others. COLLADA is also Google Earth’s native format, and it’s supported by Google SketchUp and the Google 3D Warehouse providing access to a huge amount of existing 3D models such as buildings, furniture, vehicles, etc.

For instance, here is an example I quickly did myself, and if I can do it anyone can.  I downloaded a model of the Sydney Opera House that was modeled in SketchUp and uploaded to the 3D Warehouse here.

I then was able to import that into 3DXplorer using the online studio:

Sydney Opera House Imported into 3DXplorer with COLLADA

Sydney Opera House Imported into 3DXplorer with COLLADA

And now here I am in 3DXplorer with the newly imported opera House, checking it out from the front and from the side (note that you can click on the thumbnails to get large views):

Opera House in 3DXplorer

Opera House in 3DXplorer

And here I am inside the Opera House looking out at the front:

Opera House From Inside

Opera House From Inside

Now granted for the inside view one needs to model the inside, but you get the idea. Now check this out; here I am in the Opera House with my avatar meeting with another avatar:

Opera House with Avatars

Opera House with Avatars

Hey why not visit it yourself. It’s here: 3DXplorer Sydney Opera House Virtual World. (don’t be surprised; I have disabled the collision detection for a quick exploration there.)

Now I did all this in less than an hour.  I found the SketchUp model, imported it into 3DXplorer, imbedded it in our web site and visited it with avatar and interacted with others — and I am not technical whiz.  Imagine that hundreds of thousands of models of buildings, structures, and so on, real, from the past or complete imaginary, modeled in SketchUp, Revit, AutoCAD, 3ds Max, Maya, whatever, with new ones being created every day that are accessible to anyone on the web with a persistent universal avatar by just clicking a link.  And better, they can be visited by multiple people at a time that can interact, chat, talk via Skype and so on.  This is cool.

COLLADA support extends 3DXplorer’s ability to import 3D data in industry standard formats, including the 3DS format supported by Autodesk’s 3ds Max, along with a variety of other applications such as AutoCAD, Revit, Rhino, and many others. An API is also provided enabling custom development of 3D web applications including casual games, collaborative tools, CAD/PLM environments, online meetings, product configurators, eLearning, and many others.

In the words of Nate Randall, Founder of RCE Universe: “This is revolutionary. 3DXplorer lets you create your own world, your own city, your own room, your own items all of which are now easily accessible by everyone who has access to a computer and the Internet. And now with V4 it’s fully multiuser with your own avatars…without a download, and it’s seamless!”

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

You can read the full press release here which includes a number of great quotes from industry analysts and experts.

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