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Part Three: Future Developments

3.1 VRML 2 and Hardware Developments

As a concept, VRML is constantly growing and changing, with new browsers being released all the time, containing not only more complete implementations of the current specifications but new extensions to the specifications currently being put forward and debated. One major step in the development of VRML has been the acceptance of Silicon Graphics' 'Moving World' proposal as the basis for VRML 2.0. This itself will no doubt be modified and developed over time with some of the proposed modifications serving to enhance the use of VRML considerably in an archaeological context. These useful extensions can be divided into three groups:

3.2 Hardware Innovations

As the power of desktop computing continues to grow, the range of possibilities within a VR world will increase proportionately as ever faster machines will mean smoother graphics and more complex worlds. In particular the development of 3-D accelerator cards for PCs, which take the strain of rendering models off of the main processor, will result in a significant increase in speed and the ability to map more detailed bitmap images onto objects. Several such cards are now available but only when the currently negotiated standards are finalised will their use become commonplace. In terms of the World Wide Web, as more users get faster internet connections it will be possible to publish larger, more content-full worlds over the internet without grinding the system down to a halt. In addition, the cost of LCD based 3-D glasses has begun to drop below the $100 mark. As these simply serve to make your monitor image appear 3-Dimensional, unlike the traditional VR headsets which aimed to provide an immersive 3-D experience, developments in 3-D VRML browsers based around these utilities are already underway.

3.3 Afterword: Beyond VRML 2.0

The main thrust of future development appears to be geared towards the construction of multi-user interactive worlds. The difficulties to be overcome in realising this may prove insurmountable as ensuring a degree of data concordance within an environment that exists on all user machines at the same times may prove simply too complex to implement. It does, however, promise continued development and innovation that can only help to communicate, explore and interact better with the past.


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Last updated: Tue Sep 5 1996