OLiVER: WebReview Magazine Bleeding Edge Column

General
header for OLiVER article

Published in WebReview Magazine’s (webreview.com) Bleeding Edge column, 2-’97
Caleb John Clark

OLiVR — On-Line Interactive VirtualReality brings us another step closer to Star Trek’s Holodecks.

As everyone surely knows, those holodecks work by rendering reality only in the user’s close vicinity. No need to recreate all of Victorian London for Data’s Holmesian fantasies, nor even the Whitechapel district. That would drain too much of the Enterprise’s power.

As Data or Picard stroll through London, the system generates a reality only a few feet in diameter around them — just enough to convince them it’s real. After all, reality is only within the reach of our senses.

The people at OLiVR also realized that resolution is a relative thing. The heavy hitters who founded the company (a former VP at AOL, the originator of Magic Software, and founder of VDOnet Corp) patented a fractal wavelet compression scheme likely to bring tears to the eyes of advertising folks. (They may see dollars, but I see holodecks.)

OLiVR’s tools let you stitch photos, QTVR (QuickTime VR) movie frames, or 3D renderings into an image that you can spin or zoom in on as it’s fleshing out its resolution. In other words, you get streaming 3D objects.

This means Web publishers can go ahead and put a heavy 3D object on their page without worrying that users will click off to another site before the thing downloads. Just as streaming audio made it possible to distribute large audio documents over the Net (and even continuous radio broadcasts), OLiVR expands the potential to distribute massive (which also means high-resolution) 3D objects.

There’s no wait time to interact with cool stuff, and the server can track users’ mouseclicks for feedback to the advertiser. [Water accumulates in ad exec’s eyes, salty tears stain Armani suit.]

How does it look to a user? Click on a thumbnail image, and a new window opens with VRML-like controls along its bottom border (with the usual assortment of confusing curved arrows). A low-res fractal image begins to appear, and it’s almost immediately interactive. While you spin the object around to get a better look, the resolution steadily increases.

Jeremy Pyles, a product manager over at Byte by Byte (they make SoftF/X Pro and Sculpt 3-D), made a nice looking triplane image and converted it into an OLiVR file. Here’s his take on the tech:

“I created the triplane animation in our SoftF/X Pro Animation package and then converted the rendered files into OLiVR format. It was quick, painless and easy to use. Allowing our users to see OLiVR movies stream over the Internet and present themselves almost instantly is a huge advantage for Web/content designers. This makes the difference between a mediocre site and one that stands out.

Any of the shortcomings I experienced with the OLiVR toolkit seem to have already been addressed. The ability to import sequenced image files (xxx001.bmp, xxx002.bmp, xxx003.bmp) is really nice for animators, or you can import an AVI file as well. Our program outputs both formats.

Also, the ability to convert an Apple QuickTime VR movie into OLiVR format and have that stream over the Web is fantastic — even somewhat ahead of Apple. Their use of fractal compression seems to be the definitive direction of video for the Internet.”

OLiVR currently has a beta toolkit, and free viewer out (260K); and we’re talking 14.4 modem compatible technology. There’s also a server licensing package available for bulk streaming on big sites.

Will this amount to lots of truly scary catalog shopping? Surely, but I see Holodeck-like worlds as well.

Apple Computer, Netscape, HotWired and Art Technology Group (among others) have all announced their support for OLiVR’s technology.

The guys at ID, makers of Doom, realized that you don’t usually see much detail in the world while running down a hall with a chain saw. If you think about it, we humans don’t see much detail until we slow way down, and take a close look at something, which takes time. This is part of the story behind the success of MYST. Now with OLiVR’s technology, we’re another baby step closer to Holodecks in every closet!

Web Review copyright © 1997 Songline Studios, Inc. Caleb Clark Web review Feb. 97

OLiVR — On-Line Interactive Virtual Reality — brings us another step closer to Star Trek’s holodecks.

As everyone surely knows, those holodecks work by rendering reality only in the user’s close vicinity. No need to recreate all of Victorian London for Data’s Holmesian fantasies, nor even the Whitechapel district. That would drain too much of the Enterprise’s power.

As Data or Picard stroll through London, the system generates a reality only a few feet in diameter around them — just enough to convince them it’s real. After all, reality is only within the reach of our senses. Have you tried OLiVR? Tell us by clicking here.

The people at OLiVR also realized that resolution is a relative thing. The heavy hitters who founded the company (a former VP at AOL, the originator of Magic Software, and founder of VDOnet Corp) patented a fractal wavelet compression scheme likely to bring tears to the eyes of advertising folks. (They may see dollars, but I see holodecks.)

OLiVR’s tools let you stitch photos, QTVR (QuickTime VR) movie frames, or 3D renderings into an image that you can spin or zoom in on as it’s fleshing out its resolution. In other words, you get streaming 3D objects.

This means Web publishers can go ahead and put a heavy 3D object on their page without worrying that users will click off to another site before the thing downloads. Just as streaming audio made it possible to distribute large audio documents over the Net (and even continuous radio broadcasts), OLiVR expands the potential to distribute massive (which also means high-resolution) 3D objects.

There’s no wait time to interact with cool stuff, and the server can track users’ mouseclicks for feedback to the advertiser. [Water accumulates in ad exec’s eyes, salty tears stain Armani suit.]

How does it look to a user? Click on a thumbnail image, and a new window opens with VRML-like controls along its bottom border (with the usual assortment of confusing curved arrows). A low-res fractal image begins to appear, and it’s almost immediately interactive. While you spin the object around to get a better look, the resolution steadily increases.

Jeremy Pyles, a product manager over at Byte by Byte (they make SoftF/X Pro and Sculpt 3-D), made a nice looking triplane image and converted it into an OLiVR file. Here’s his take on the tech:

“I created the triplane animation in our SoftF/X Pro Animation package and then converted the rendered files into OLiVR format. It was quick, painless and easy to use. Allowing our users to see OLiVR movies stream over the Internet and present themselves almost instantly is a huge advantage for Web/content designers. This makes the difference between a mediocre site and one that stands out.

Any of the shortcomings I experienced with the OLiVR toolkit seem to have already been addressed. The ability to import sequenced image files (xxx001.bmp, xxx002.bmp, xxx003.bmp) is really nice for animators, or you can import an AVI file as well. Our program outputs both formats.

Also, the ability to convert an Apple QuickTime VR movie into OLiVR format and have that stream over the Web is fantastic — even somewhat ahead of Apple. Their use of fractal compression seems to be the definitive direction of video for the Internet.”

OLiVR currently has a beta toolkit, and free viewer out (260K); and we’re talking 14.4 modem compatible technology. There’s also a server licensing package available for bulk streaming on big sites.

Will this amount to lots of truly scary catalog shopping? Surely, but I see Holodeck-like worlds as well.

Apple Computer, Netscape, HotWired and Art Technology Group (among others) have all announced their support for OLiVR’s technology.

The guys at ID, makers of Doom, realized that you don’t usually see much detail in the world while running down a hall with a chain saw. If you think about it, we humans don’t see much detail until we slow way down, and take a close look at something, which takes time. This is part of the story behind the success of MYST. Now with OLiVR’s technology, we’re another baby step closer to Holodecks in every closet!

End.

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