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3D DIRECT • July 23, 2001

3D Stream

Avatars from Adobe?

by Barry Fox

Here's an interesting twist; venerable Adobe has a new product, which oddly enough turns out to be a Web-based 3D avatar chat browser with an accompanying authoring tool.

While this isn't what most people might have expected from Adobe, we do get to see a new product from the seemingly dead-for-a-fifth-time, Web 3D arena. Of course, this is not an area known for the quality of its software. But at least with this product, we get to see one of those familiar Adobe credit screens as their new tool boots up.

View the 3D Stream in realtime. Click on the image to get started. You may be asked to load an Eyematic plug-in, don't worry, it only happens once. Sorry Mac users, the 3D Stream is only available on Windows, this time.

Of course multiuser Web 3D has been around almost since the beginning of the Internet. But for that entire span of time, it has been a visual ghetto when compared to video games and other realtime 3D applications.

But Adobe seems poised to address this head-on by putting 3D tools in the hands of its gigantic army of professional graphic artists. And they have done their homework in providing a contemporary quality realtime 3D engine to show these 3D worlds.

An interesting fact that could shed light on why Adobe would be entering the world of multiuser 3D is that they have been collaborating with Bruce Damer's DigitalSpace Corporation. Damer has long been at the forefront of Web based multiuser collaboration in virtual worlds.

And while multiple waves of hype and derision have come and gone, a core group of users have continued to pioneer real uses of virtual avatars, like distance learning, e-commerce, and virtual conferences with thousands of attendees.

Naturally there are many factors that Adobe's succes will hinge upon here. Chief among them will be how these worlds and avatars will be authored. Adobe's authoring tool, Atmosphere Builder allows users to create simple 3D spaces out of parametric primitives that snap together.

After texturing these scenes, users can run Atmosphere Builder's built-in radiosity lighting. Animated 3D models can also be brought in from standard 3D modeling packages as well to make it a fairly flexible solution.

Well, that's all for this installment. Thanks for watching the 3DStream.

Barry Fox really enjoys being in 3D.