WWW - VRML stuff

Evans Craig (bilbo%TRITON.UNM.EDU@vm.ucs.UAlberta.CA)
Sat, 10 Jun 1995 12:20:40 -0600

I see that I _have_ peeked some interests.

Bryan, Some of the differences that I see between VR & conferencing, have to do
with the environments. Both may reside on the Internet, but today, the VRML
applications need to be downloaded and run on each system. With a
conference, you are added to the list and run on the host machine.

Peter gave a good example with the existing frog dissection.

In a virtual _simulation_ , you interact with the objects in an environment
(which make up the world). Of course, on a conferencing system, you
interact among each other. (the participants)

David askes some good questions regarding application of VRML:

> I'm not an expert on VRML, myself. One thing I'm unclear about is what it
> will take to create a VRML application. How will you go about constructing a
> 3-d space for users to explore? What tools are available now, and what tools
> are anticipated for the future?
The high end of VRML uses a graphics workstation, like a Silicon Graphics,
to create the environments. But a typical user, would create the _world_ on
a PC running a rendering program, like REND386, then convert the world in a
format that can be translated into VRML. The future tools would do _all_ of
that in one application. As I described in my previous paper, the future
browsers would run the simulation, without using helper tools.

> I have to say it seems like a stretch to imagine that VRML will save money
> in travel expenses. Is this even an application that makes sense for VRML?
I am building these worlds for a particular audience, Native Americans.
Most of them live in remote areas, reservations, that even a field trip to
another school involves a day in a bus, to and from, not the 20 minute trip
down the street. To visit a manufacturing plant may require trips off the
reservation and into the nearest city. (An overnight trip)
To me, it makes perfect sense.

> Video teleconferencing is available now, and it certainly has the potential
> to reduce the necessity of travel to meetings. This is not usually done via
> the Internet. The Internet isn't particularly well-suited to carrying live
> video, though it can be done. Will it be possible to do video
> teleconferencing with VRML? That is, can we convert a live scene into VRML
> to be transmitted in real time across the Web? Will there be any advantage
> to doing so?
It is possible, but really doesn't make any sense since small video
conferencing can be done on PC's now. Intel makes PROSHARE, which not only
can you conference, but you can run shared applications on the monitor and
both annotate it while it is up. It is possible to run teleconferencing in
a virtual environment today, but only if you want to talk via a virtual
head. It has been done with cartoon charaters, such as Mario, talking to an
audience. The speaker wears a headmonted device that moves the character on
a large screen. The voice is amplified, and voila, MARIO Speaks.

Converting a live scene is a different kind of problem that Peter explains
well. I would like to add, that his description will create the
cartoon-like environment, which you can add lifelike textures to the
objects, but it still looks like a computer-generated scene. Apple and
Microsoft have taken a different approach with QuickTime VR and Surround
Video. There you take pictures of real scenes to create a real, picture
quality worlds. The limitations, _costs_,high end hardware and software are
needed. Apple - Software costs ($2000 + annual fees), Microsoft - Panoramic
camera needed ($2,500-$22,000). Also, when you are in such an environment,
you can only be in it looking out, such as being inside a city or room and
gazing at the skyline. It is nearly impossible to be outside
looking in, such as inspecting a statue in a park.

My only comment to Peter, good job. Also, currently you will not be able to
manipulate the objects, just add the hyperlinks. But the next iteration of
VRML is addressing the limitations.

Thank you all for the great questions.

Evans Craig, VP Educational R&D
Advanced Tribal Integrated Informatiopn Networks, Inc (ATIIN)
One Technology Center
1155 University Blvd., SE
Albuquerque, New Mexico   87106

(505) 843-4292  fax (505) 246-2891

bilbo@triton.unm.edu  or aissys@technet.nm.org

and coming soon:  evans@atiin.com