An Introduction to Google's O3D
There have been numerous attempts to add a third dimension to the Web over the years. Unfortunately, most have limitations: Open formats like X3D never gained much popularity, Flash-based 3D engines are limited by the performance of the Flash runtime, and commercial offerings can cost several hundred to several thousand dollars.
A new project from Google, O3D, aims to overcome these limitations by providing a free, open source, cross-platform and cross-browser plug-in that delivers the flexibility and speed of a low-level graphics API like OpenGL or Direct3D, while addressing the constraints of running inside a web browser. This plug-in gives web developers the ability to utilize the underlying graphics hardware of the host PC directly, allowing detailed 3D scenes to be displayed directly in a web browser. And because O3D is free to use, there's no cost barrier.
Installing the Tools
This article demonstrates how to write a very simple O3D application. The first step is to install the O3D plug-in. By running some of the sample applications, you can test that the plug-in has been installed correctly and that your PC meets the O3D minimum requirements