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April 3, 1996

SIX TEAMS PUT PROPOSALS TO VRML ARCHITECTURE GROUP FOR NEXT VIRTUAL REALITY MODELING LANGUAGE UPDATE

By CBR Staff Writer

Six groups have submitted papers to the VRML Architecture Group laying out their proposals for Version Two of the Virtual Reality Modeling Language for use on the Web (CI 2872). The next generation of VRML is expected to enable users to act much more naturally within virtual worlds than is currently possible, adding properties such as objects that can be picked up and moved. Currently, most support seems to be gathering to the Moving Worlds proposal, put forward by a group of 56 firms, including Silicon Graphics Inc, Netscape Communications Corp, Adobe Systems Inc, Sega Enterprises Ltd and IBM Corp. Curiously, one of the other proposals is also from IBM – or at least IBM Japan Ltd, which is pushing its own Reactive Virtual Environment system. Other contenders are Microsoft Corp, with its Active VRML; a group led by the German National Research Center for Information Technology which has come up with Dynamic Worlds; Sun Microsystems Inc, which is pushing HoloWeb, and Apple Computer Inc with Out of this World. Being eminently sensible and pragmatic, the Architecture Group intends to use a short period of Internet-based debate to extract the best ideas from each of the proposals. A polling booth was opened on the World Wide Web, and has just closed. Right about now, the Architecture Group is holding meetings with the primary authors of the selected proposal to create a VRML 2.0 first draft. A final draft is expected to ready by July 14. Details of the procedure are available at https://vag.vrml.org/vrml20info.html. Several firms are already rushing to early implementations of the Moving Worlds proposal. San Francisco-based Dimension X Inc says that its Liquid Reality Java-based authoring kit will support the proposal, although it gives no time-scale. Similarly, Chicago- based Vream Inc (www.vream.com) last month introduced its UniVR technology, which aims to give flexible support for whichever standard is finally chosen. Its WIRL virtual reality browser runs as a Netscape 2.0 plug-in and Vream promises Moving Worlds support soon.

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