World Movers
San Francisco - January 30,31
commentary February 1, 1997

Hilites & Impressions from the World Movers Conference

The basic premise of this conference was to introduce content authors, software developers, and platform designers to the recnetly released VRML 2.0 specification for describing 3D scenes downloadable via the World Wide Web.

SGI was giving all attendees these amazing brief cases filled with the VRML 2.0 reference book, pens, videos, and other goodies. I don't know if the extra goodies influenced me, but I read the VRML 2.0 book cover to cover the night after I got this ... later I found out so did almost everyone else. Intervista was showing their fully VRML 2.0 compliant (yes?) Internet Explorer and Netscape plugins. Amazingly they were also showing this on a PowerMAC running QD3D ... I now have a copy that I gave to Radius. Apple were also showing this off. They were also showing off some QD3D plug-in shaders that generated facinating 'hand rendered' looking 3D sketches of 3DMF objects. Axial are now called NewFire and were showing off Quake VRML + Java WAD converted files (no object collision or game play, but very visually alluring on first glance). SGI indicated they will be having an early version of CosmoGL for PC in early February.

3Dlabs' Neil Trevett moderated a 'Comercial Applicaitons of VRML' panel. Unfortunately another panel elsewhere filled with VRML pioneers Pesce, Parise, .. was being held on some trivial topic. As it turned out, this was probably all for the best since the panelist were able to move through their material freely and answer questions. A panelist from a NY 'market research firm' had some very interesting views on how 3D Internet can easily augment point of sale enterprises by helping focus on customer personal likes on-line to minimize in-store browsing - bottom line customers get more of what they want, stores need less sales staff and show floor space. Showed a GAP site that intimated this.

Overall this was a very comfortable and hip conference heavily sponsored by leading 3D Internet companies and attended (heavily at times) by international content authors and press. Interestingly, although S3 paid out a hefty 'full sponsor fee', 3Dlabs' lesser sponsorship was inversly reflected with them getting almost exclusive recognition as the only 3D hardware accelerator technology for PC (and Mac) suitable for 3D Internet applications. 3Dfx and Rendition had no presence (3Dfx showed a demo at one panel session only and it wasn't VRML!). S3 was widely talked about as a 3D deaccelerator!

Last Word: VRML was officially handed off from cottage to corporate industry. All the VRML pioneers seem increasingly irrelevent now that Sony, SGI (now embrasing the PC and Macs), Microsoft, Apple, and most importantly of all SoftBank (show organizer) are sinking their teeth into this technology.


The VRML 2.0 Handbook: Jed Hartman, Josie Wernecke, Silicon Graphics, Inc. - Adison Wesley

OpenGL 1.1 Reference Manual - Addison Wesley


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