PHIL - Application explosion

John W. Barrus (
Mon, 13 Jun 1994 11:43:52 -0400

I am reading a lot about coordinate spaces, sound, MUD-like interaction,
etc. on this list. All of those sound fun and exciting, but I regard many
of these items as separate applications.

I use Mosaic to find information. I don't care where it is or what machine
it is on. I especially like the fact that sound, images, movies, and text
can all be retrieved. I also find the ftp, gopher, etc. links to be

If I want to talk to someone online, I use a MUD, a real telephone,
unix-style talk, or e-mail (believe it or not).

Soon, I would like to use a MUD that has 3D graphics and sound for
electronic meetings. However, I don't envision using a Mosaic-like
information sharing program for carrying on electronic discussions or
communication. I think that those are separate applications that might be
able to display the same information that appears in Mosaic, but has a
different focus and purpose.

My vision for VRML is to provide another means for accessing electronically
based information - in particular, interesting 3D models and spaces - that
are difficult to share in any form now. Transmitting a 3D environment
would require much less network bandwidth than transmitting a movie that
displayed even a portion of that environment. The fact that the slower
machines (low-end Macs and PC's) could not regenerate scenes as quickly as
some SGI's is not that much of a problem for data sharing - only for game
playing and interactive applications (not the focus of WWW at all).

Maybe there should be two groups of developers. One group could focus on
allowing 3D models and data to be shared among WWW and Mosaic users. A
second group could begin work on a system that allows interaction between
people on the network - visual and oral communication. Although the second
group could use WWW by retrieving info and following links around in the 3D
environment, the primary focus of the group would be real-time interaction
among people. The focus of the first group would be information sharing
and retrieval. I think the bandwidth and interactivity requirements of the
second type of system are much higher than we would want for the first
system. The first system should be a more general solution for more people
that don't own expensive graphics hardware and high-speed networks.

John B.


John Barrus

Mitsubishi Electric Research Laboratories 617.621.7535 (VOICE)
201 Broadway 617.621.7550 (FAX)
Cambridge, MA 02139