Subscribe to

I periodically dig around a bit to see what’s new in the browser-based “3D internet” realm because I think that the evolution of the internet into a 3D space is the long-term reason it makes sense to be paying attention to virtual worlds now — and it is a reason that skeptical colleagues understand. Earlier this year, I came across Smallworlds, which integrates YouTube videos, Twitter feeds, and various social networking sites into a browser-based virtual world. Today, I found ExitReality (currently in beta) which raises the stakes.

After signing up for ExitReality’s beta, downloading a browser plugin, and typing in VB’s address, I found myself walking through my own site as an avatar in a full-sized browser window. ExitReality basically makes your blog, storefront, or personal web page into a virtual world, and it does this on the fly. Cool, huh?

Here’s a big screenshot so you can see what I’m talking about without signing up for the beta and jumping through the download hoops yourself.

ExitReality Screenshot

You can even install couches and jukeboxes in the 3D version of your site so people can have their avatars sit down and listen to an audio stream while they chat about your articles or products or whatever in real time.

ExitReality is not perfect. It wouldn’t load when I had my laptop hooked into a big LCD monitor, it crashed a couple of times, it has a name that may alienate even more people than “Second Life” does, and most critically, because no one writes sites with 3D navigation in mind yet, navigating this way was actually less intuitive than navigating most flat sites. Who cares? I am walking around my own web site this morning, and that makes me grin.

Email This Post Email This Post
Print This Post (Printer Friendly Formatting) Print This Post (Printer Friendly Formatting)

Related Posts on Virtually Blind

21 Responses to “The Coming 3D Internet… Exhibit B: ExitReality”

  1. on 02 Jul 2008 at 9:03 amTakuan

    It crashes for me every single time :(

    I was really very interested in seeing what my own website would be like, but I guess I will have to wait.

    Thanks for the info, though, it looks like quite an interesting idea.

  2. on 02 Jul 2008 at 9:12 amBenjamin Duranske

    @1 – Maybe try another PC? I had to unhook my external LCD to get it to work on my laptop (which has a pretty serious graphics card, for a laptop). Also, I just uploaded a big version of the screenshot and linked it to the smaller one so people who can’t get ExitReality to load can see the interface.

  3. on 02 Jul 2008 at 9:16 amNate Randall

    I’ve been playing around with it for a week or so now too working up an article and some features for our members. Hopefully I’ll be done soon. Have you had any trouble saving your custom content?

  4. on 02 Jul 2008 at 9:28 amBenjamin Duranske

    @3 – I was able to add couches and stuff after adding their validation code to VB’s footer. I’ll find a better place for it eventually (probably in the sidebar) but that’s where I stuck it for now. It is tied to that tiny “Launch in 3D” button at the bottom of the site. Once I had that in place, it let me save my content.

  5. on 02 Jul 2008 at 10:00 amNate Randall

    My issue was getting the code to add to the site. For some reason the browser would not display it. I’ll try again tonight as I know the devs have been working on the issue.

    It is a really really cool tool. I am hoping they develop some scripting capabilities so I can add things like linkage to our sites economy and quests/games.

  6. on 02 Jul 2008 at 5:07 pmDanny

    Thanks for the write-up Benjamin!!! Will have someone look into external LCD on laptop issue.

    @5 (Nate) Try searching for ‘door insert web link’ in Edit Search. This is an example of a 3d widget (anyone can create these). When you drop that in the 3d scene it will ask for a url. Enter the url of the destination you want the door to link to and click OK…enjoy!

    Also there is support for javascript in 3d files, so you can achieve just about anything. It all uses open standards.

    As far as decorating goes, just drag an object into your 3d page, click the Save button and copy the small script code to paste into your page. If you were on a Social network page this process is automated.

    @1 (Takuan) I would love to hear any more information about your crashes… if you are an early Beta tester, it may pay to clear your 3d cache… F2 -> Options -> Cache Settings -> Delete Temporary Files.


  7. on 02 Jul 2008 at 6:41 pmAna

    Hi, just wondering if would be worth a lot if the internet is “going 3D”??
    Example, if is worth $500.00 would be worth just as much if not more?
    Thanks… 3d fan.

  8. on 03 Jul 2008 at 9:13 amBenjamin Duranske

    @7 – That’s a good question. I suspect that in the long run, it won’t be all that novel to be presenting information in three dimensions, and sites will just have 3D presences by default (sort of like nobody bothers advertising that their television show is broadcast in color anymore). Just my guess though, and I suspect that companies will at least experiment using domains like that, so you never know.

  9. on 03 Jul 2008 at 2:18 pmAshcroft Burnham

    That looks like a lot more work to browse a website than using Firefox.

  10. on 03 Jul 2008 at 2:56 pmBenjamin Duranske

    @9 – It absolutely is, at least for now. The working theory behind my unabashedly evangelistic position on this is that that will change. After all, using the 2D web was a lot more work than picking up a newspaper for a while, and emailing was much harder than writing a letter too. Both are so integrated into our lives now that they have largely replaced their predecessors. I expect that down the road something like this will mature into something far more useful and usable than it is in its current form, particularly once input and output devices are created to advantage of the possibilities it offers.

  11. on 03 Jul 2008 at 4:17 pmAshcroft Burnham

    Hmm, I’m not sure that I agree that using the 2d web was ever more difficult than reading a newspaper, or that writing an e-mail was ever more difficult than writing a letter: the only thing that might have made them seem difficult was getting used to the technology itself. I am quite accustomed to using 3d worlds from my experience in SecondLife, so unfamiliarity is not the reason that I’d find it more difficult: it’s just that there are far more steps to take in order to achieve the same result: the opposite to the comparison between e-mail and letters or web browsing and newspapers (where one does not have to go to the shop, buy a pack of envelopes and some stamps, come home, write the letter, fold the paper, put the letter in the envelope, seal the envelope, open the book of stamps, take out a stamp, affix the stamp, address the envelope, and take the envelope to a post-box, etc.). It strikes me that using a 3d web browser like that is inherently inefficient. It is not impossible that there is some additional function to 3d web browsing that will more than compensate for it, but nobody seems to have thought of one so far.

  12. on 03 Jul 2008 at 6:53 pmBenjamin Duranske

    @11 – Assuming it ends up as easy as typing (or more likely speaking) a destination (e.g. the technology is all buried in the browser and code) would that change the analysis for you?

    I’m certainly assuming that all the hoop jumping and downloads and plugins and whatnot will eventually disappear in this analysis. Re: web v. newspaper, there was a time when downloading a browser (like Mosaic, pre-everything else, since your computer did not come with a browser and it took hours to get one via download at, if you were lucky, 14.4kbps) and hooking in via now-obsolete overlays (the names escape me.. SLIP maybe?) that basically patched “the web” into otherwise textual interfaces really did pose massive hurdles. We forget them now, but it used to really suck to use the 2D web, in the early days. Even email was segmented by platform and a total pain to use. For me, looking at even recent history, I think it would be a huge mistake to discount the 3D web because the early beta offerings look like early beta offerings. That’s always true, and hardly indicative of long-term failure.

  13. on 03 Jul 2008 at 7:08 pmDoubledown Tandino

    Ok, there’s a picture of your avatar in SL…. and it’s looking at a photo of a avatar from a world where their avatars are trademarked. So is there some sort of weird law thing going on here?

  14. on 04 Jul 2008 at 9:53 amMichael Donnelly

    It’s a clever method to display a bunch of HTML, but it’s still just a new way to deliver existing data. Even adding some markup to your site only yields a bit more control over the display, but doesn’t take it any closer to being what most folks would consider real VR (multiperson, object manipulation, etc).

    As much fun as it would be, I think any kind of Snowcrash/Neuromancer-esque transition to everyone using a VR to “browse” is very, very far away. Scrollable text with flat markup really does a lot of damage and it’s hard to break that habit. That’s why I’d be inclined to discount the 3D web coming up any time soon.

    To me, this is like looking at a mini-RC helicopter (man, those are fun toys) and somehow expecting us all to be flying small aircraft to work in the next few years. Neat stuff, but not happening.

  15. on 04 Jul 2008 at 12:55 pmBenjamin Duranske

    Maybe… but this kind of thing (particularly involving new hardware) makes me think 3D interfaces are closer than we might expect:…-gui

    Even the new Mac OS and Vista incorporate the basic idea. Heck, even tabs in Firefox and now IE are, in a sense, bringing a 2D simulation of 3D to the web-based interface and environment. How long can it really be until processing power, affordable screen size, and consumer-grade bandwidth make 3D practical? And once it’s available, why wouldn’t designers start taking advantage of it?

  16. on 04 Jul 2008 at 2:45 pmMichael Donnelly

    I dunno, Ben, still seems gimmicky. Computers have been capable of 3D action for years and even today’s operating systems just use the capacity for fun stuff, not core functionality. I think it’s going to take a really big fundamental step, like direct neural input, before browsing (as we know it) really picks up steam in 3D.

    Existing input systems make it cumbersome to get around and there’s no real “killer app” that requires it. The Internet itself is the killer app that was the impetus for fighting through all the crap connectivity, crap software, and crap companies. It was worth it to mess with Trumpet TCP stack (remember that?) and all the other annoyance because the end product was something amazing: mass sharing of information.

    There exists no such light (yet) at the end of the VR tunnel for folks. Going from Flash/HTML to VR is like stepping from regular TV to HD. It’s a big step, but nowhere near the step of going from no-TV to regular TV.

    Of course, I see things from the other end of the barrel, so to speak. It’s quite possible that the real answer is halfway between my extreme pragmatism and your extreme theory. ;)

  17. on 05 Jul 2008 at 10:38 amAshcroft Burnham

    Ben, I was not referring to the technological hurdles in getting the thing to work: I was assuming that it was all set up and that it all worked smoothly – even then, the inherent usability is, as far as I can see, inferior to standard browsers.

  18. on 05 Jul 2008 at 3:15 pmBenjamin Duranske

    @16/17 – Until people start coding with something like this in mind, I have to agree with you guys; I just think that’s not inconceivably far away. But hey… I’m admittedly biased here as a sci-fi fan and a preposterously optimistic futurist. I suspect that as Michael said, the reality falls somewhere between extreme pragmatism and extreme theory.

  19. on 07 Jul 2008 at 12:11 amDanny

    I’d like to add that the point of viewing 2D pages in 3D is only to get people started. It is by no means a more efficient interface for searching and consuming standard web information. Rather, it is an on-ramp for all web page owners to engage their audience in ways that only a 3D experience can deliver, if they wish to do so. Our vision is that many page owners will do just that.



  20. on 07 Jul 2008 at 2:07 amAshcroft Burnham


    interesting response; but the question then becomes: what incentive is there for people to go up the onramp if the highway is a slower route to their destination than the old road? If the highway takes people to a new destination, that needs to be signposted clearly; I am not sure what the new destination would be at this juncture.

  21. on 07 Jul 2008 at 7:03 pmDanny

    @20 I agree, showing people where 3d is best used is one of our goals, we are doing this through example via our 3d search engine. 3d is a media type along side text, pictures, audio and video (but also encompassing them). Being able to utilize this media type has application across as broad-a-range of applications as do the others. Please take a look through the ExitReality 3d search engine to see a myriad of real uses 3d has been employed for over the years.

Leave a Reply

Notes on Comments: Your first comment must be manually approved, but after it is you'll be able to post freely with the same name and email. You can use some HTML (<a> <b> <i> <blockquote> etc.) but know that VB's spam blocker holds posts with five or more <a> links. VB supports gravatars. Got a gravatar? Use the associated email and it'll show with your comment. Need one? Set it up for free here.