The Role of Standards for E-Commerce in Virtual Worlds

The Role of Standards for E-Commerce in Virtual Worlds

Joerg H. Kloss
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61692-808-7.ch015
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This chapter discusses the topic of standards for Virtual Worlds with emphasis on their usability as a stable and reliable basis for long-term investments into 3D-E-Commerce. The text explains why standards are important for the success of Virtual Worlds as well as the business in these shared online 3D environments, and what the relevant criteria are to decide for the right technology and/or provider. Although sometimes in the shadow of popular proprietary platforms there are already many different candidates for a Virtual World standard, currently in different states of development. By choosing a 3D platform, E-Commerce providers will decide about their business potential and at the same time strengthen one or another standard in the current technical competition phase. So it is important to get an overview about the current approaches, their advantages and disadvantages as well as the tendencies for the future developments. In this chapter the reader will be sensitized for the issues of standardization, compatibility and interoperability of Virtual Worlds for successful E-Commerce applications. An overview about the current approaches supports the orientation and decision for the different technologies. Some concrete XML-based code examples realized in the international ISO standard for interactive 3D-Graphics X3D demonstrates the practical deployment of highly compatible concepts. An outlook to the further integration of interactive 3D graphics into the Next Generation Web respectively the 3D Internet completes the overview.
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To simplify the questions and to overcome the current main challenges of missing interoperability between VW's, compatibility of 3D assets and teleporting of avatars, standards are required for VW's. Identified as one of the major challenges in the community, different standardization approaches are currently under development. Not all of them are intended to become recognized as an official standard, but by providing a generic 3D interface to one or more of the dominant web browsers they have the potential to become a de facto standard. Also the feature sets differ tremendously between the various approaches. While one covers the whole spectrum of a fully featured VW including multi-user functionality, persistent asset management and in-world tools, the others just provide a standardized interface for 3D graphics. Furthermore, also the latter could differ in the level of abstraction they provide to handle 3D graphics operations.

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