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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, April 17, 2001

Cyberspace is becoming 3-dimensional

By Burt Lum

While indulging myself with info from www.howstuffworks.com, I was drawn to a subject I find irresistible. Virtual reality and cyberspace complement each other, so when I started reading about Visual Internet Operating System (ViOS), I was hooked.

While most of us access the Internet's vast data resources by clicking through hyperlinks, there are others that visualize the Internet as a three-dimensional space of communities and content. Navigation through this space would mimic travel through normal space, much in the way a video game does. Your presence in this 3D cyber-landscape would be represented by an avatar as you walk, run, fly or teleport from one location to another.

There have been many examples of 3D cyberspace. I remember back in 1997 downloading a plug-in from Apple Computer that demonstrated HotSauce, its 3D version of info space. On the more commercial front, programs like Activeworlds.com leveraged the popularity of Internet chat to immerse a user in a virtual 3D world.

Now there is an effort to open the predominantly academic world of 3D info landscaping to more user interactivity and make it commercially viable. Check out the overview of ViOS at www.howstuffworks.com/vios.htm The overview depicts a 3D environment where participants can interact with each other and travel through virtual landscapes of cyber-storefronts leading to Web sites.

Although similar to Active Worlds, ViOS differs with its concept of leasing prime "real estate" in virtual space. With enough money, you can buy a prime location, like a high-traffic area or in a cybermall next to a recognized brand like Yahoo. As in real life, location determines price.

You can sign up for the free CD of the software or if you can't wait, you can download the hefty 78MB file direct from www.vios.com The key to ViOS success will depend on how many participants it can attract. If it is appealing it could be millions, if not, it could be another interesting technology exercise. ;-)

Burt Lum, cybercitizen and self-anointed tour guide to the Internet frontier, is one click away at burt@brouhaha.net.