September 18, 2008 The entire Web in 3D. That's the by-line of ExitReality, a free Internet plug-in launched today in Australia, and it does deliver. The software gives access to existing 3D content on the Web via a tailored search engine, as well as taking two dimensional pages and turning them into a 3D experience for the user. This means it turns navigation of any page into a type of first person player game or visit to Second Life. We're not sure how big the ensuing online revolution promised at the launch will be, but it's definitely a bright approach, one that offers both web users and those who do business online an easily adopted entry point into the world of virtual online interaction - an area that we've only scratched the surface of.
3D in the online environment offers a new way of interaction, and with everything from advanced haptics to holograms in the pipeline, it's a space that deserves watching.
Founder of ExitReality, 36-year-old Australian Danny Stefanic, has this take: “3D is a new digital frontier. It is a media type that has yet to be fully adopted by the mass market of web users. Like text, images, video and audio, I see 3D as another form of media. Each medium has its role, and 3D doesn’t take over from the other mediums, it adds another rich layer.”
ExitReality does two distinct things. The Search Engine provides access to sites that are already rendered in 3D but the 4MB plug-in also takes the content of a any 2D page you are visiting which you reach via a "Launch in 3D" button that gets embedded in your browser.
A MySpace page becomes a 3D apartment you explore using your avatar - the audio can be found on a duke box, the video on the TV and links to your friends become doorways. On YouTube you can sit in a cinema with other avatars to watch the video and a page of photo thumbnails becomes a walk through gallery. You can also chat to the people you see and decorate your 3D space. It will appeal to some as more engaging, but I'm not sure I'd bother reading the news every day in 3D.
As a mere surfer you lose the changes you've made at the end of the session, but site owners can make their custom 3D environment public by adding a "Launch in 3D button". Stefanic says this will lure advertisers and publishers with longer session times and more creative ways to expose their products.
“For the advertiser, ExitReality introduces 3D advertising on a large scale to the Internet, enabling greater brand exposure, targeted audiences, longer prospect attention and retention, and more creative presentations," said Stefanic.
The software has been eight years in development. It's built on open standards, scaleable (a new room is created if more than 50 people are online) and it's designed to work on low spec computers (probably quite slowly).
The commercial model is similar to Google with search results yielding sponsored links. The browser home page also carries sponsorship, the most notable at this stage being US fast-food chain store Carl's Jr. which has created a virtual online store.
"Expect some more big announcements soon," Stefanic said.
Check it out for yourself at ExitReality.