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and that on Games Technology
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, below.The creators of VR-type computer games are
understandably cautious about sharing too many of their developmental secrets, but a
comparison between games such as Microsoft's Flight Sim 2002 and the leading cultural
practitioners of VR demonstrates clearly the debt that standardised VR development owes
to the more overtly financially-motivated world of mass-market entertainment.
Another traditional and popular use of VR technologies is in the field of design.
Architects and engineers use Computer Aided Design (CAD) programs in conjunction
with VR to produce interactive, explorable and, in the case of objects, manipulable mod-
els of their designs.This aids designers in assessing the practicability of their creations
and, in the case of architecture, facilitates a greater understanding of what a building will
be like to experience once built.The introduction of these technologies has led to noth-
ing short of a revolution in working practices for architects, engineers and designers.
H o w 3 D Te c h n o l o g i e s Wo r k
Dedicated browsers and viewers
Before outlining the specifics of particular 3D technologies, we wish to lay stress on
one of the prerequisites of VR explorations and authoring. Just as a Web browser is
required to parse and interpret HTML files, a dedicated viewer/browser is almost always
needed to view and explore virtual worlds. Such products include Computer
Associates'
CosmoPlayer, Sony's Community Place, Intervista's WorldView2, Parallel
Graphics'
Cortona VRML client, and SIM's VRMLView. QTVR requires QuickTime to be
downloaded from Apple's Website to the user's machine before panoramas can be
viewed.This needs to be done only once, and after the download the software continues
to reside on the user's machine for future use.
A note on standardisation
Standards on VR and other 3D technologies have often failed to inspire developers
into persevering with them, with the result that there is currently no single VR technol-
ogy that can be considered the `industry standard' for any business sector.Thanks to the
efforts of some organisations this is beginning to change.
The Web3D Consortium has recently broadened its scope from VRML only to
include a variety of Web-based 3D technologies to be considered for standardisation.The
goal of the new Web3D charter is to create a suite of interoperating standards which will
be targeted at specific industries and market sectors.
The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is a non-profit, vendor-neutral industry
consortium organisation charged with the development of common protocols for the
evolution of the Web.The Consortium's work programmes cover a variety of user inter-
Virtual Reality and
Display Technologies
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The reader is invited to see the section on Games Technology.