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VRML support building

In a bid to push 3D Internet technology forward, 35 major developers form the Virtual Reality Modeling Language Consortium.

In a bid to push 3D Internet technology into the mainstream, 35 developers including Netscape Communications, Microsoft, and Silicon Graphics today formed the Virtual Reality Modeling Language Consortium.

VRML has become the de facto standard for creating 3D environments on the Internet. Like HTML, VRML is designed to allow clients, servers, and development tools from different vendors to work with each other.

But unlike HTML, which is guarded by a the World Wide Web Consortium, VRML has never been managed by an official standards organization and was instead controlled by a loose-knit band of companies known as the VRML Architecture Group.

According to members of the VRML Consortium, the VRML Architecture Group will be replaced to create a formal process for adding innovations to the VRML standard.

"The VAG was not a formal body," said Deepak Kamlani, a spokesman for the VRML Consortium. "The feeling in the community was that we needed to formalize [the standards process]."

Kamlani said that new group will also focus its efforts on evangelizing VRML to developers to make the technology more prevalent on the Internet. "We're at the point where we can move into the mainstream," he said. "It's less of a technology concept."

Other companies endorsing the consortium today include 3DLabs, Apple Computer, Axial Systems, Black Sun Interactive, Construct Internet Design, dForm, First Virtual Holdings, IBM, Integrated Data Systems, Intel, Intervista Software, Kinetix, Mitsubishi Electric Research Labs, Oracle, ParaGraph International, S3, Sense8, Sony, Superscape, Template Graphics Software, and Visible Decisions

The VRML Consortium has elected an interim president, Rikk Carey, to lead the group and will elect a board of directors in January.

Carey said today that the consortium is working with the International Standards Organization to make VRML 2.0, the latest version of the technology, an official international standard.

Today, one of the members of the VRML Consortium, Black Sun Interactive, also outlined its product plans for the coming year. In the first quarter of 1997, the company will release CyberHub 2.0, a server that allows sites to set up online VRML-based communities. The new version of the server will include support for multiparty voice conversations, advertising and billing systems, and member access and participation rules.

In the third quarter of 1997, the company will release CyberHub 3.0, which will feature interconnected community conventions, advanced community definitions, and property ownership.