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Leading Internet Companies Support Living Worlds Initiative Apple, IBM, Intel, & More Than 30 Others


Black Sun Interactive, ParaGraph International and Sony Corporation announced that leading Internet companies have joined together to support their Living Worlds Initiative. The Living Worlds Initiative answers the need for a standard that creates a compatibility layer between multi-user VRML communities from different vendors. Black Sun Interactive, ParaGraph International and Sony are presenting an initial technical specification of Living Worlds for public review .

The following companies have expressed support for the Living Worlds Initiative:

3Name3D, 3D Labs, Acuris, 3rd Dimension Technologies, Aereal Inc., Apple Computer, Archite X, Axial Systems, Barnegat Communications, Black Sun Interactive,, Chaco Communications, CyberPuppy, CyberTown, Extempo Systems, Fijitsu Laboratories LTD, First Virtual Holdings, GrR HomeNet, IBM, Integrated Data Systems, Intel Corporation, Intervista, Media Authoring Center -- George Mason University, Netcarta, Neuromedia Studios, Onlive! Technologies, Oracle Corp., OZ Interactive, ParaGraph International, PeopleWorld, Planet 9 Studios, Sense 8, Silicon Graphics, Sony Corporation, Velocity, vivid studios, VREAM, VRMLSite, Worlds Inc.

"Until now, each vendor of VRML-based online technology had to develop and market servers, avatars, clients, and worlds in order to ensure interoperability between all the pieces," said Franz Buchenberger, president and CEO of Black Sun Interactive. "With Living Worlds, companies will be able to focus exclusively on specific product areas. This specialization, in combination with the impressive group of industry-leading companies that support Living Worlds, will increase the rate of development and allow companies to build products to further the emergence of on-line communities.

This initiative will further the development of on-line communities by bringing new benefits to end-users, world builders and avatar developers.

End-User Benefits

Living Worlds Offers features that would allow users to visit any standard 3-D community with a single avatar of their choice. Avatars will be able to move seamlessly between worlds created by different vendors while still taking advantage of unique features belonging to the avatar.

For example, an avatar enabled with voice chat will carry that voice function with it to any multi-user world it visits. An avatar carrying an electronic credit card will maintain the ability to use its credit card in any multi-User world.

"The ability to define your own cyberspace persona, and then have that persona represented consistently across a wide spectrum of different servers technologies and operating systems, is one of the killer applications for multi-user, virtual reality on the Internet," said Gregory Slayton, president of ParaGraph International. "The Living Worlds standard should open up revenue-producing opportunities for companies that will specialize in helping people to develop their own personalized digital representations, or avatars, and to update them over time."

Multi-User Benefits for Developers and Designers

Today, virtual community developers must customize a world for each specific multi-user technology they want to support. Under Living Worlds, a developer would be able to construct one VRML world that would work with any underlying VRML-based, multi-user technology.

Furthermore, avatar designers must currently choose a single multi-user system that will be supported by a particular avatar. That avatar can then only be used in worlds served by that system. Under Living Worlds, an avatar designer is able to create avatars with unique features and functions that can then operate in any multi-user world. These benefits will lower the cost of development for world and avatar builders and increase the rate of development of virtual communities.

"3-D shared virtual communities represent the next logical step for Internet development," said Dr. Akikazu Takeuchi, president of Architecture Laboratories, Sony Corporation. "Sony's co-authoring of both the VRML 2.0 specification and the Living Worlds proposal represent our continuing commitment to open interoperable standards. We believe this is crucial for the ongoing synergy between consumer, electronics and the Internet."

Industry Leaders Contribute to Living Worlds

Silicon Graphics and The Silicon Graphics' External Interface proposal developed by Silicon Graphics and Black Sun is a key component of Living Worlds which enables dynamic interoperability of multi-user protocols. "Silicon Graphics applauds the continuing open process practiced within the VRML industry and is pleased to contribute its expertise in 3-D and visual computing to facilitate the rapid expansion of inter-commurtity avatar travel on the Web," said Kai-Fu Lee, vice president and general manager, Web products division of Silicon Graphics.

"The Living Worlds initiative will accelerate the expansion of the Internet from 'home pages,' to 'home worlds' where PC-users socialize with each other in a media-rich, highly-interactive environment," said Mike Richmond, director of Intel's Application Components Lab.

Living Worlds Supports Industry Efforts

The Living Worlds proposal compliments the Universal Avatars initiative, which is currently developing a standard data model for avatars that can be used across compatible technologies.

Living Worlds provides a framework for VRML worlds that support interaction among Universal Avatars and promotes a social community.

"The Living Worlds initiative and Universal Avatar initiative make it possible to put an interactive, social interface to IBM Digital Libraries and electronic commerce sites," said Dr. Willy Chiu, director of the IBM Digital Library. "Visitors can bring their virtual wallets and personal organizers with them as they travel from site to site, making network computing a more dynamic and exciting experience."

The VRML consortium promotes VRML standardization across the entire industry. The supporting companies of the Living Worlds proposal have agreed to further the initiative by forming a working group under the VRML consortium. Working groups benefit from the structure provided by the consortium and from the input provided by all the consortium member companies.

"By forming a working group under the consortium, Living Worlds will increase the input it gets from the VRML community as a whole," said Tony Parisi, chief technology officer of Intervista Software and co-creator of VRML. "This will ensure that the resulting standards take into account the needs of the entire community."


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