O3D – an open-source API for 3D applications

Google recently introduced the O3D project on Google Code. The main objective of the project is to develop
“a new, shader-based, low-level graphics API for creating interactive 3D applications in a web browser”.
Google joins the Khronos Group to develop standards for the authoring and acceleration of parallel computing, graphics and dynamic media with this project.

Demo

The project is still in a very early stage and Google plans to include a broad developer community to shape the API and use the benefits of an open-source project. Google brings it’s expertise in web developement and the technology they have developed with SketchUp and GoogleEarth to the table while the community may contribute knowledge, experience and feedback.

Interactive visualization can be written in Javascript which should excite some of the ECMA savvy readers. Debugging and adjusting is made possible directy in the browser without the need to compile the application as seen in VVVV or the likes. There are already some impressive demos on the Google Code website. One example that stood out for me was an adoption of the Search Burst by Aaron Koblin (originally created in Processing). Here is a quick the comparison:

Processing

Javascript

We’re looking forward for a broad adoption for this standardized solution in perspective of high-fidelity 3D visualizations that can be rendered in realtime directly in the browser. Projects like this bring us closer to making data openly available and consumable while using sophisticated visualization methods. Just like Flash or Silverlight O3D too requires the installation of a plugin but what seems promissing is the open-source character of the technology. As with everything new, only time can tell whether mass adoption will happen.

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  • http://www.twgonzalez.com/ Tom Gonzalez

    Very interesting news. What I am more interested in is the language itself. Processing is great for low level access to graphics api calls, and it takes most of the configuration pain out of Java. But you still end up going direct to OpenGL for most serious 3D work. What I hope Google can do is leverage new language paradigms for developing 3D applications, much like Adobe has done with Flex for RIA’s. If they can do that, then I think we will see huge adoption rates. Creating just another procedural/OO 3D platform that runs in the browser doesn’t seem all that great in and of itself.

  • http://www.twgonzalez.com Tom Gonzalez

    Very interesting news. What I am more interested in is the language itself. Processing is great for low level access to graphics api calls, and it takes most of the configuration pain out of Java. But you still end up going direct to OpenGL for most serious 3D work. What I hope Google can do is leverage new language paradigms for developing 3D applications, much like Adobe has done with Flex for RIA’s. If they can do that, then I think we will see huge adoption rates. Creating just another procedural/OO 3D platform that runs in the browser doesn’t seem all that great in and of itself.