X3D is “an XML-based language for representing 3-D objects and scenes” according to Chapman & Chapman (2009, p710) and as such is very well suited over the Virtual Reality Modelling Language (VRML) to Internet applications for three reasons, according to Bullard (1999) as quoted by Cover Pages (2006), why VRML did not succeed in its own right. Firstly, VRML tended to be a specialist language rather than one, such as XML, which is widely used and understood which limited its adoption which also addressed the second problem that XML would allow more developers to use X3D and thirdly, given also that the W3C at the time was pushing for the next generation of browsers to support XML, X3D should gain widespread adoption.
One of the other main benefits of moving towards XML is the ability, as with XHTML, to provide different profiles for different uses, from the same source, according to Chittaro & Ranon (2007), such as the increasing need to make an application available to the web and to mobile devices. More specifically X3D is suitable for education, product visualisation (in eCommerce) and virtual tours and communities. Hetherington et al (2010) demonstrate this by proposing a virtual tours of Stonehenge in England as could be seen at different times, simultaneously.
My particular interest in this area lies in the use of X3D for education, specifically the use of augmented reality, which is somewhat a buzzword being discussed in our education planning at the moment, where in practical subjects which involve the construction of a physical entity (e.g. sugar sculpture (yes, a real subject)). This would allow students, by requesting via web page, to generate, from a single X3D file (as Hetherington et al (2010) demonstrated) the stages of construction and to view a 3D model of the finished product from different perspectives. This could be performed in many different ways from multiple devices, potentially with the use of 3D screen or hologram technology in the future, including mobile devices that are growing hugely in popularity with students. This is especially relevant to special needs education and allowing such students to learn in non-typical ways, examining the subject matter from the point of view of their own understanding and viewpoint.
Chapman. C. & Chapman. J. (2009) Digital Multimedia (3rd Edition). Wiley.
Chittaro. L. & Ranon. R. (2007) VRML Adaptive 3D Web Sites [Online]. Available at http://www.dcs.warwick.ac.uk/~acristea/courses/…/Adaptive3DWebSites.pdf (Accessed 27 Feb 2011).
Cover Pages (2006) VRML (Virtual Reality Modeling Language) and X3D [Online]. Available at http://xml.coverpages.org/vrml-X3D.html (Accessed 27 Feb 2011).
Hetherington. R., Farrimond. B. & Presland. S 2010, ‘Information rich temporal virtual models using X3D’, Computers & Graphics, ScienceDirect, EBSCOhost, viewed 27 February 2011.