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Web3D Consortium Launches X3D Standardization Initiative

Web3D Consortium Launches X3D Standardization Initiative for Web & Broadcast 3D Graphics

X3D Standard to Define Interoperable, Lightweight Components for 3D Web And Broadcast Applications; Combines Lightweight Runtime Delivery Engine, 3D File Format and XML Integration; Strong Industry Support for Proven Standardization Process

SAN RAMON, California. February 10, 1999.

The Web3D Consortium today announced that it has initiated the process to define X3D, a next-generation componentized 3D standard that includes integration with XML. Standing for "Extensible 3D," X3D is defined as an interoperable set of lightweight, componentized 3D standards that flexibly address the needs of a wide range of markets, including Internet and broadcast applications. With strong industry support, the Web3D Consortium is driving a fast-paced process to produce a draft standard by mid-1999.

X3D incorporates a number of component specifications allowing extremely lightweight applications to be deployed on a variety of platforms, from workstations to set-top devices. Initial components include a lightweight 3D runtime engine with state-of-the-art rendering capabilities, a platform-independent 3D file format and advanced XML integration. Additionally, by integrating real-time 3D graphics with text, plus 2D graphics and streaming sound and video, X3D will enable a wide range of web- and broadcast-based applications including entertainment, electronic commerce and enterprise data visualization.

The X3D initiative is another step towards the Web3D Consortium's goal of enabling multiple complementary technologies for web 3D graphics to enter the standards process. X3D is a strong focus for many key members of the Consortium, but it will co-exist with other technologies initiated inside and outside the Consortium. Furthermore, the X3D framework will enable many application specific components to be generated and deployed, independently of the core X3D specification.

X3D is building upon the success of the VRML 97 ISO standard with clearly defined backward compatibility with existing VRML content. The Web3D Consortium is also working to ensure that X3D will be interoperable with other standards and technologies such as MPEG-4 and HTML NG, and is working closely with broadcast-oriented organizations such as AIC-I, the Advanced Interactive Content Initiative. Through continuous cooperation with complementary standards bodies, such as the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and the Internet Engineering Taskforce (IETF), the Web3D Consortium intends to encourage the full integration of 3D graphics with streamed media, including full inter-media synchronization and advanced cross-media compositing.

X3D is being defined by a multi-company design team and synthesized from the requirements of applications, developers and Consortium member companies. Additional key contributors will provide support to the design team by advising on advanced technology issues. Multiple implementations, including open source browsers, example applications and conformance test suites will be produced prior to formal standardization. Deliberate open review periods will consider all critical technical and strategic issues. Further details of the X3D standardization process can be found at the Web3D Consortium's web-site at

"The Web3D Consortium has defined a robust process for defining X3D that builds on the success of its previous VRML standardization activities, by incorporating the strongest features of open design and working group practices," said Neil Trevett, vice president of 3Dlabs and president of the VRML Consortium. "The componentized nature of X3D is a fundamental advance in enabling the widespread deployment of 3D graphics on diverse computing platforms."

Key Consortium members supporting X3D include Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT - news), PLATINUM technology, Sony Corporation and Sun Microsystems.

"Microsoft has consistently supported VRML, and we now look forward to working with the Web3D Consortium to continue to promote the adoption of 3D content for the Web," said Steve Judkins, program manager with the Windows Media Runtime team at Microsoft Corp. "Microsoft also brings its experience with Chromeffects to the X3D initiative and will leverage this experience to bring the richest interactive media experiences to customers of Windows."

"PLATINUM is fully committed to deploying 3D visualization that increases the productivity of our customers in the business environment," said Tony Parisi, vice president of business development for PLATINUM's Internet commerce division. "X3D is essential to the evolution of standards-based 3D computing, and we strongly support the standardization initiative being driven by the Web3D Consortium."

"Sony, as a key player in the VRML standards arena, is working to deploy 3D graphics on a range of consumer electronics devices and welcomes the X3D standard that will enable lightweight applications that tightly integrate 3D with streaming data types," said Akikazu Takeuchi, president of Sony Corporation's Platform Software Development Center. "Sony will continue to play a key role in the Web3D Consortium to ensure that X3D becomes the ideal platform for developing compelling entertainment content and is interoperable with other industry standards."

"Open 3D standards are vital to enabling networked 3D applications," said Ken Okin, vice president and general manager, Workstation Products at Sun Microsystems, Inc. "Sun's heritage is in fostering open standards, and we plan to continue our efforts to ensure that the Java 3D API is compatible with evolving standards, including the new X3D standard being developed by the Web3D Consortium."

The Web 3D Consortium is soliciting new members and participation from companies who wish to be involved in the definition of the X3D standard to drive the future direction of 3D graphics technology. Interested parties should contact Deepak Kamlani at More information is available at the Web 3D Consortium's Web site -

Web3D Consortium Information

The Web3D Consortium (formerly the VRML Consortium) is a non-profit organization with a mandate to develop and promote open standards to enable 3D Web and broadcast applications. The Consortium successfully gained approval for VRML 97 as International Standard ISO/IEC 14772 in December 1997.

The Consortium is comprised of over 40 leading organizations including charter members such as 3Dlabs, Apple, blaxxun, Microsoft, Mitsubishi Electric, Oracle Corporation, PLATINUM technology, Silicon Graphics, Sony and Superscape. Web3D Consortium members provide technical and marketing expertise for the continued evolution of open 3D standards while gaining early access to ongoing technology and commercial opportunities. More information on VRML, the Consortium's ongoing standards activities and Consortium membership is available at or

NOTE: All trademarks and registered trademarks previously cited are the property of their respective owners.

SOURCE: Web3D Consortium

Prepared by Robin Cover for the The SGML/XML Web Page archive. See also: "XML and VRML."

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