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Virtual Worlds boom – and There.com goes Mac

This week There.com announced Mac support, plus an instant messaging client and facebook integration. Second Life (which has long been on Mac and Linux too) announced their IM client as well. Looks like they’re responding to Google Lively, which itself may have been launched early to respond to Vivaty. Virtual worlds are back with a vengeance, with $345 Million invested so far this year – with companies releasing free content-creation tools and solid server platforms hosting actual users, lots of ‘em. A flurry of new metaverses came to SIGGRAPH this year – but that’s not the whole story. Social networks, instant messaging integration and cross platform support (YES, I mean Mac) are underpinning mass adoption, this time around.

Below, I’ll report from the field on the new wave of virtual worlds and what they mean to us.
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3DzzD – A free Web 3D tool

3DzzD is a good tool to make 3D Online, it uses Java and can run every where, it includes a lot of functionalities such as full scene management, animation playback, physics, more… and an advanced software and hardware rendering engine using JOGL (Java OpenGL).

The current version available on the site is a little obsolete but V2 will be out soon so stay tuned. The new version also enables panoramas as quicktime VR using cubic, spherical or cylindrical map.

Comments are welcome, try it and let me know if you find any problem with it running on Mac OS.

A sample can be viewed here.

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Two New VRML/X3D browsers

Octaga Player and Fraunhofer’s instantreality are two excellent VRML/X3D browsers for Mac OS X. Some very nice new features here from the latest X3D specs – shaders, rigid body physics, particles, high dynamic range imaging, multiple video formats and so on. Neither will work as a web browser plugin as far as I can see. For that, try FreeWRL and let me know if you can get it to work ^_^

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MADLIX – Web 3D for everyone

MADLIX lets users insert 3D-content in web pages, blogs, Google pages, community presentations and more. MADLIX is OpenGL-powered and runs smoothly inside all Java-enabled browsers, with no need for custom plug-ins or application installation. The on-line gallery at www.madlix.com features high-quality content ready for insertion. MADLIX is accompanied by the MADLIX exporter tool enabling 3D artists to directly export their 3D artwork from Autodesk Maya to the MADLIX gallery. The exporter features pre-view functionality as well as a standalone viewer, supporting the MADLIX file format and the open standard file format COLLADA

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NASA 3D Guide to the Galaxy – Finally an authoring and playback tool for Mac users

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s PlanetQuest web site is providing visitors with a unique opportunity to interactively explore the vast Milky Way galaxy using “plug in free” X3D technology in Demicron’s WireFusion. The platform-independent interactive 3D visualization and multimedia “Guide” can be navigated in real-time over the Web.

X3D is an open standard for real-time 3D visualization on the Web and networks. WireFusion combines X3D with Java to integrate 3D, 2D, video, audio and Flash into interactive presentations for use on the Web without the need for any plug-ins or special downloads.

WireFusion’s X3D/Java solution is especially appealing to Mac developers and users, where 3D on the web has traditionally been less than accessible.

3D Guide to the Galaxy: http://planetquest.jpl.nasa.gov/SIMGuide2Galaxy_launch_page.html

WireFusion: http://www.demicron.com/wirefusion/

There is a news story at: http://www.web3d.org/news/releases/archives/2006/07/the_3d_guide_to.php
which has more details

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Universal Binary of Wings 3D Available

A Universal Binary is now available for Wings 3D, the marvellous Free low-polygon 3D modeler.

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Mac version of Google Sketchup

I loved Sketchup the first time I tried it – a fast freehand 3D sketching tool for the Mac with a clean, gorgeous interface. Ever since Google bought them and released a free version of the tool for Windows, I’ve been waiting for today; there is now a free version of Sketchup for the Mac.I’m getting some awful redraw artefacts though – the rotate tool for example is leaving trails all over the screen. Is anyone else seeing this?

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Octaga to release X3D plug-in for Acrobat

Octaga is developing an X3D plug-in for Adobe Acrobat and Acrobat Reader that will allow any user to read and interact with 3D visualizations and virtual reality embedded in a PDF document. The software is designed to enable creative professionals to more quickly and cost-effectively collaborate on projects that require visualization with 3D, video, and audio. X3D is the ISO ratified 3D scene interchange format and runtime system for 3D visualization, virtual reality, and augmented reality (3D with text overlays, audio, and video). X3D supports several file format encodings and programming languages, providing interoperability of 3D data across diverse computing environments and great flexibility in manipulating, communicating and displaying scenes interactively. A Mac version is planned for later this year.

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AC3D version 6 now available

Inivis Limited today announced the release of the AC3D 6 3D modeller for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux. Version 6 supports subdivision surfaces and more, and is available for $79.95: http://www.ac3d.org/whatsnew.html

AC3D is one of the longest -established 3D design software programs available today. In development from 1994 and commercially available since 1996, AC3D has grown to become a highly regarded and popular program.
Inivis Limited, developers of 3D design software, purchased the complete rights to AC3D in 2002. Inivis is committed to developing AC3D’s functionality and multi-platform availability, whilst maintaining its user-friendly and client-focused reputation.

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Xj3D (open source X3D browser) version 1.0 released

Download Xj3D here – for Mac OS X, Windows, Linux or Solaris. It includes implementations of the CADGeometry, DIS, GeoSpatial, and H-Anim extensions – plus new custom extensions for Rigid Body Physics, Particle Systems, Clipping planes, Picking Utilities, and Abstract Device IO. This ain’t your daddy’s VRML browser. I’m looking forward to trying out the physics extension in particular.

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