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The Internet in 3D
By: Brett Moneta
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Remember CES, the Consumer Electronics Show, that happened way back in January? Okay, so it wasn’t that long ago. Anyhow, they came out with all of those cool new gadgets. You can jump onto your favorite fanboy bandwagon and say that your favorite brand had the coolest product, but there was one feature that was included in several products and brands: Three-Dee. 

“So what? That’s so 2010,” you’re thinking. “Asus and Acer came out with 3D laptops last year.”

“But wait,” I say. “There’s more!” Aside from more players like HP and Lenovo joining the fray, there are some interesting new features on these products. Let’s look at the Toshiba Qosmio laptop, and subtly–named Nintendo 3DS. The way these devices works is simple: the screen is “smart.” It changes for you, based on the distance and angle you’re looking at it. The trick comes in the form of a camera that “watches” your eyes and adjusts accordingly. They’ve added a new wrinkle: they’re taking away the glasses and that is a big deal. IMO (in my opinion), it puts 3D into the mainstream.

A lot of money is going into 3D R&D. TVs, laptops, PCs, gaming devices, and more. That means that, quite possibly, that 3D is more than a fad this time. And with 3D PCs already in development, it could mean a completely new dynamic to the Internet. Wait for it…

Imagine the entire web going 3D.

Think about it. 3D opens up a whole new world for applications that involve maps, social networking, photographs, gaming, and more. Imagine a 3D version of Google maps, where you can walk virtually though a neighborhood without being there. Think about the avatar demonstration that Microsoft put together with Kinect for the Xbox 360, where avatars of you and your friends can sit in a room and talk to each other. Now put it in 3D. Picture photographers selling photographic experiences where the user can take a tour that puts them into the photo. Suddenly you can be anywhere and everywhere. It’s mind boggling. Suddenly, web developers are selling not just applications, but experiences.

Imagine the process involved in creating a 3D website. It’s a complete paradigm shift that would change the entire industry. Each site would involve creating a literal world that users will want to immerse themselves in again and again. It could be an Internet that’s so much more realistic that you might just want to stay there. 

On the flip side (or at least futuristically creepy side), it puts us one step closer to the world suggested by Robert Venditti and Brett Weldele (or the Bruce Willis film) in Surrogates. And I’m not even going to mention the Matrix.

So, while a 3D web seems so distant, we’re not as far away as you might think. We’re already taking the first steps.

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About the Author
Brett Moneta has been playing in the digital world since 1996. He’s worked for companies like AOL, Avenue A | Razorfish, and Omnicom, developing content strategy and consulting on usability for companies in IT, consumer electronics, retail, healthcare, energy, and more. You can follow his tweets and read his blog too. Find him online here.
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