New 3D Web tool linked to XML

We might one day look back at the week of March 26 as the dawn of the 3D Web.

Coming on the heels of an announcement this week from Adobe Systems Inc. that it will release a beta version of a new 3D Web application called Atmosphere, Mariah Vision 3 Inc. today released 3Scape, a new 3D Web authoring application.

"We've beta tested this for two months, but we did it very quietly," says Tim Ambrosino, president of Mariah Vision 3, in a thinly veiled reference to Adobe's Atmosphere announcement. "We wanted it to be a true beta to make sure that it worked -- rather than having a marketing beta."

Ambrosino says the new application -- which is being released only for Windows with a Mac version coming out sometime this northern summer -- is totally drag and drop. It integrates with Web authoring tools such as Macromedia's Dreamweaver in much the same way programs like Flash or Fireworks do.

"3Scape allows authors to create an environment where all the objects are smart and multi-dimensional," Ambrosino says. Anything that's created with the software is automatically linked to a site's XML data. For example, there could be 3D stadium seats on a site that sells sporting event tickets. By clicking on the 3D image, visitors will be able to get real-time information, such as the price and availability of the seat.

"That's one of the most exciting things about this product, that everything spits out in XML," Ambrosino says.

Asked why there all of a sudden seems to be flurry of 3D developments for the Web, Ambrosino says it's partly coincidence and partly the result of companies' just now finishing the development of 3D products that were started a while ago.

The coming of 3D to the Web, he says, is simply a natural evolution of the medium. "It was logical that this would happen. The Web is becoming more interactive and dynamic."

Mariah Vision 3, which began operations in 1995, has spent much of its history developing 3D and interactive tools for theme parks, museums and business, in addition to the Internet.

3Scape sells for US$399 and includes the editor and the player.

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