The 3D future of your web browser

July 23rd, 2011 by bala Leave a reply »

The 3D future of your web browser

Fast, smooth, high resolution stereoscopic 3D graphics are coming to a web browser on a PC or Smart TV near you very soon, with many web developers and designers now claiming that 3D is on the verge of going mainstream on the internet.

With lots of new movie and gaming content migrating to the cloud, there is now a strong commercial impetus for web developers and content producers to create browser tech capable of running the latest 3D graphics.

“The big push today for developers is to create a browser that is capable of harnessing morecomputer power in terms of tasks and performance,” says Adam Taylor, in-house analyst at games agency Adotomi.

“One of the big focal points is rendering 3D graphics (as opposed to true 3D) and, with the advent of HTML 5 and custom APIs such as WebGL, we’re a step closer to that.

From a gaming point of view, the current gen of the so-called “social games” are limited by browser technology – on Facebook they’re mostly programmed using Adobe Flash or JavaScript. Hopefully we’ll soon reach a jumping-off point where the browser is really able to render complex graphics easily, which will open up a whole new range of possibilities for social gaming.”

The 3D web revolution

Mozilla’s Firefox was the first browser to add support for 3D HTML5 video and has been working with partners such as Nvidia and YouTube to help lower the barrier for 3D video on the web, “encouraging 3D video innovation built on open webtechnologies,”according to a Mozilla spokesperson.

“We’re very excited about the possibility of 3D on the web,”the Mozilla rep added.”WebGL enables an entire new class of applications on the web. Being able to take advantage of first-class 3D hardware acceleration in a browser on both desktop and mobile allowsweb developers to create compelling and immersive experiences for their users.

“3D graphics open the door for developers to create spectacular games, vivid graphics and brand-new visual experiences for the web, without requiring users to install plug-ins. Being able to share fully 3D data as easily as people share photos on the web today can help foster collaboration.”

3D Battlestar Galactica

German online gaming developer Bigpoint made a splash at GDC 2011 in San Francisco earlier this year, demonstrating the latest stereoscopic 3D browser games titles Toon Racer, Ruined Online and Battlestar Galactica Online – the first batch of fully 3D games set to be made available through a web browser.

“For rendering 3D graphics inside the browser there are currently two technologies that have significant audience penetration and developer base,, Unity’s Web Player browser plugin and WebGL” says Carlos Ulloa creator of the Papervision3D engine for Flash and interactive director at 3D web agency HelloEnjoy. “But in the next few month’s we’ll see significant developments.”

Adobe Flash 11 Molehill

Right now, Unity offers 3D games developers the best overall experience, with advanced rendering, physics and effects. That said, the latest developments with WebGL – which is soon set to arrive in full (non-beta) versions of Safari and Opera, in addition to new mobile versions for iOS and Android – are sure to increase its appeal amongst browser games creators and 3D web designers.

Added to this,with Adobe’s 3D-capable Flash 11 on the horizon (code-named Molehill) and other major new 3D browser tech developments such as Google’s Native Client O3D,it is clear to see why web designers think we are on the verge of a 3D browser revolution.

“Flash 11 supports accelerated 3D graphics,” notes Ulloa, “it still requires a plugin, but has a massive penetration. And Google Native Client is a browser technology that allows the secure execution of native code without any additional install. This means that browsers that support Native Client will run Unity content without installing a plugin.

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