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Group feels need for Web textures

A VRML standards group is seeking submissions for a library of textures intended to make 3D graphics more realistic on the Web.

The Web is accepting donations of fox furs, mowed lawns, sidewalk pavements, bright shiny chrome, viscous fluids, and fish scales.

All these and countless other textures are on the wish list posted by a standards group working on Virtual Reality Modeling Language, or VRML. The group is seeking submissions for a public domain library of textures intended to make 3D environments on the Web more realistic.

VRML (pronounced "vermel," rhymes with "thermal") is a markup language, akin to HTML, for the creation of 3D environments on the Web.

Heading up the standards effort for VRML is the Virtual Reality Modeling Language Consortium, whose Universal Media Element Library Working Group (VRML-UMEL WG) is soliciting the donations.

Once seen as the future of the Web, with pundits predicting that it would overtake HTML, VRML has faded into the background.

But UMEL working group chair Aaron Walsh said the VRML library would speed the adoption of the 3D Web technology.

"It should have a tremendous effect," Walsh said. "The trouble until now has been that VRML hasn't looked or sounded very realistic, for the most part, and it has also required a very fast connection to experience. But UMEL will put professionally created textures, sounds, and objects right on your hard drive, so once you have them they're never downloaded over the Net."

The library will launch its drive for sounds and objects in the next few months, Walsh said. The current drive for textures is divided into the following six categories: backgrounds (such as sky and waters), creatures (skins and carapaces), finishes (stucco, carpets), materials (brick, plastics), nature (grounds, shrubs), and urban (lights, signs).

Textures may be submitted to the VRML-UMEL WG Web site.