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VRML gets Living Worlds

Hoping to make 3D online worlds an easier place for users to virtually meet, more than 30 vendors throw their weight behind a technology called Living Worlds that will allow their multiuser products to work together.

Hoping to make 3D online worlds an easier place for users to virtually meet, more than 30 vendors have thrown their weight behind a technology that will allow their multiuser products to work together.

Called Living Worlds, the technology builds upon the VRML (Virtual Reality Modeling Language) 2.0 specification, an accepted standard that allows software from different vendors to display the same 3D environments. But while leading 3D specialists such as Paragraph, Silicon Graphics, and Black Sun Interactive have already created products based on VRML 2.0, the standard has lacked a common set of rules governing multiuser interaction.

Living Worlds is an attempt to remedy that shortcoming. Once vendors adopt the Living Worlds specifications in their products, users will be able to move, for example, an avatar (their virtual stand-in) across 3D worlds hosted by different products.

"The whole goal is interoperability between all the pieces that would make up a 3D community," said Munjal Shah, product manager at Black Sun, which along with Paragraph and Sony is leading the Living Worlds initiative.

Besides the three main backers, the technology has received endorsements from a host of other vendors, including Apple Computer, IBM, SGI, Intervista, and Worlds.

Black Sun officials said they expect to incorporate Living Worlds into their products by the end of the first quarter of 1997.

Like HTML, the company hopes that a common standard such as Living Worlds will spur the creation of 3D worlds.

"We believe the same is true of the 3D experience," Shah said. "We'll see more worlds taking off if everybody sticks to the same standard."