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Black Sun eases path to 3D

Black Sun Interactive is trying to make online communities friendlier for both Net surfers and advertisers.

Black Sun Interactive is trying to make online communities friendlier for both Net surfers and advertisers.

On February 24, the company will release two products aimed at the fast-growing market, officials said.

The first, Black Sun Passport 2.0 Plug-In, is designed to give users easier access to 2D and 3D communities. The features include a community directory that lets users find online friends as well as locate other 2D and 3D community sites. The directory also lets users go straight to the ten most popular sites.

Another feature called "gestures" lets users express themselves through their online identity, called an avatar; they can bow and wave.

Black Sun's second product, Community Server 3.0, is a companion server product that aims to let Web site owners generate revenue from their 2D and 3D online communities. The features include an "ad agent," which takes ad banners created for a customer's 2D Web site and automatically presents and rotates them in a 3D environment.

"For users, its a much more interactive, more compelling environment," said Munjal Shah, product manager at Black Sun.

Other features let advertisers determine the effectiveness of their ads by tracking visitors. The server also includes so-called robots that Web site owners can use to perform tasks such as greeting new users and taking orders from them.

Server pricing starts at $1,000 for 2D communities and $1,500 for 3D communities.

Virtual communities such as The Palace are growing in popularity. As reported by CNET, Walt Disney is gearing up to offer an extensive online service that includes 3D chat with Disney characters.