MMORPGs, Second Life and Sony's Home all show that Neal Stephenson was right in Snow Crash, people like the ideas of virtual spaces and avatars for online interaction.
I suspect we're at the begining of a move of such environments onto the web.
The HTML Canvas
element gets you some of the way there by providing a bitmap display. People are already building basic demos
for 3D applications running natively in the web browser. It's a long way from simple untextured wire-frame models to WoW, but the direction is clear. Google (and many others) have already put IM into the web browser.
So, what's missing? A way for the browser to interface directly with the necessary hardware; DirectX in the browser basically, or more likely SDL
. The Ajax 3D
initiative have the right idea, and have an open source plugin
I'm getting a bit lost as to what the state of the art is here, YUI
look like interesting sets of libraries for building applications, but as far as I know there isn't a standardised interface to the hardware. OpenLaszlo mentions microphones, but is that only for the Flash target?
. Not quite
fast enough for real-time raytraced games
, but still quite a nice demo.