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Tour the 3D countryside, with a friend

If a new kind of software catches on, visitors to 3D Web sites will soon be able to bring a friend.

Visitors to 3D Web sites will soon be able to bring a friend if new software from Integrated Data Systems catches on with Web developers.

IDS's V-Realm 3D Media Server can open 3D environments, or worlds, to multiple users who could chat with one another via text or audio, the company said.

Users in most 3D worlds are represented by avatars, a 3D depiction that can reflect simple movements. For example, if the avatar is a dog, it can move across the screen as the user navigates the environment. Typically, users can see only their own avatars.

In a world created with the IDS server, however, the avatar could go into a 3D meeting room and mingle with others, chatting in real time with text or audio. The user would need only IDS's V-Realm plug-in for Navigator 2.0.

V-Realm users would even be able to visit other 3D Web sites together. Even if the second site doesn't normally support multiple users, they would be able to see and chat with the other avatars they're traveling with.

The V-Realm 3D Media Server for Windows NT is expected to ship in June priced at $1,695. The client software to go with the new server will sell for $39.95 and run on either Windows 95 or Windows NT. Site administrators for worlds created with the IDS server will be able to set access and security preferences for their own sites.

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