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Navigating the Internet in 3D

Photo by Illustration by Austin Bell

Photo by Illustration by Austin Bell

Austin Bell, Technology Editor, Puma Press

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Human beings have been seeing two-dimensional images for thousands of years. They have created beautiful 2D art and images that have transcended and lasted throughout human history. Now for the last quarter of a century, these images have inhabited our computers, then smartphones and tablets. The rich tapestry of high definition images and infinitely replayable gifs are at the forefront in our increasingly cyber world. Still, there are those who want more.

Finding that “more” is the task of numerous individuals and groups looking to reach the next step in navigating the Internet in three dimensions. While the transition of 2D to 3D won’t be a gigantic step in the world of technology, such as going from a telephone to cell phone or writing letter to sending an email, it can exponentially change numerous other arenas of life, such as education, consumer production, and social interaction.

The way it works is actually really simple. Many companies have been making the transition easier, and Internet browsers are becoming highly malleable and can be transformed, thanks to plug-ins. To give a true definition in computing terms of plugins, 3-D technology is simply an extension or add-on that can extend another application. This saves developers a lot of time and resources, no need for cutting edge virtual reality headsets or expensive computers that go beyond typical Web surfing, and the technology also allows them to reach a wide audience.

One new and rising tech startup trying to make this happen is a company called JanusVR. Janus was Roman god, a god that kept control over time, doorways, beginnings and endings. On the JanusVR website, the team describes their work as a creating the “world inside the web.” The connected websites on JanusVR are linked by portals through which you can send your own avatar. Most of the language and applications are very small and can be easily used to transform the language of the Web browser.

Right now, the JanusVR program is designed to create immersive experiences through traditional 2D displays, augmented reality, and now, a high reemergence of virtual reality. Users have the ability to explore the Web through www.JanusVR.com. You can download the desired program for either Windows, Mac or Linux. The program allows for a spatial walkthrough and turns normal 2D webpages into rooms that you navigate either through the keyboard or a controller, such as an Xbox360. The experiences within the rooms are also highly collaborative, allowing you to interactively edit the html script, changing the rooms within the Web pages. You can also chat with strangers and friends through voice or text input.

In an email interview, CEO and founder of JanusVR, James McCrae, talked about his initial desire to create a 3D Web browser. “ It started back in 2013 as a hobby project where I was really interested in the emerging and still fledgling VR tech and wanted to create software in support of it that had near-infinite reusability,” he said.

He adds that he realized bringing in all content on the Web would provide the greatest source of data for the project. This led to a problem, he says: “how best to represent and interact with the Web, while using VR hardware?”

From the initial birth of the idea came the goal of building a company and team that could create something that didn’t exist, he says.

From the initial birth of the idea came the goal of building a company and team, that could create something that didn’t exist. ”

— CEO of JanusVR James McCrae

“Creating a company came a year later in 2014 while a strong community was formed, and later came funding in 2015,” he said. “Before all of this, I had no specific goals in mind for the project other than to create something for the world that did not exist, and demonstrate a vision of what could be.”

McCrae says the goals of JanusVR are moving targets, but they have managed to provide a way to access the Web using VR, providing an improved means of displaying Web content represented sub-optimally in a 2D or traditional browser.

McCrae anticipates the prospect of widespread adoption of the VR headsets to be released this year.

He said, “ The lack of such technology has been what has been holding back previous initiatives in this space, a notable example of this is VRML. The idea was simply too far ahead of its time.

“With hardware available that is both (a) affordable and (b) capable of providing a pleasant experience, this combination will catalyze innovation in many different industries….”

In all likelihood, navigating the Internet in 3D won’t be just a novel idea but another facet of the way we use the Internet before long. It’s not a question of “if” it’s going to happen, but “when.”

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Navigating the Internet in 3D