3D Shopping for All Seasons
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Dateline: 11/15/00

It's holiday shopping season so a timely look a 3D for shopping is in order.

So you're ready to shop. The question is just what kind of 3D aids are out there to help. Certainly one of the premier uses of 3D is to display and let you interact with products. Viewpoint is one of the kings of 3D tech for the Web. One of my favorite examples is the Aibo site from Sony. Aibo that cute little $1500. robotic dog is manipulable in 3D. Also sample sites available from the Viewpoint "featured sites" link are: Nike, Iconoclast (another place for Nike), and Hewlett Packard. While it's unclear as to how broadly the Viewpoint viewer (formerly called the Metastream viewer) has been deployed it is unquestionably the best quality 3D renderer out there. The models of clothing and shoes have photographic detail. In fact the models are created by starting with photograph and the geometry is extracted, the textures are retained allowing the user to zoom in for great detail, even looking at the thread holding on buttons.

Another mainstream example is Palm's use of 3D on their website to push the Palm VII. Palm uses the Cult3D plug in developed by Cycore.

Both Viewpoint and Cult can popup textual annotations and callouts to draw attention to a particular aspect of the product. It's a great feature for virtual products and not truly possible in the real world.

Speaking of rendering quality another extremely interesting and novel shopping environment is offered by the RichFX plugin. The RichFX plugin is a plugin for the RealMedia player. A store is rendered in high quality 3D and as the user travels around the data is streamed to the viewer. The quality is also extremely high. This same technology is used for the Neiman Marcus Manolo Blahnik shoe boutique. The combination of streamed rendered 3D with the RealMedia player and limited but functional 3D navigation is quite compelling.

Another technology not often associated with ecommerce is from Pulse3D. The Pulse plugin is the king of 3D characters for the Web, but it's also been used for sales. The Volvo site utilized Pulse to allow the viewer to take a little road trip with the Volvo S60. It's not all that interactive, you can look at the moving car from a few distances and zoom around it, but the idea is very cool and the rendering quality is also excellent.

In terms of shopping one of the big issues concerns clothing. Let's look at the human side to shopping next.

Next page > The Human Element > Page 1, 2

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