Google bolsters 3-D API for browser

Google's O3D API has gotten a substantial upgrade aimed at enhancing O3D's ability to run on many different types of hardware

Google this week began offering a "substantial" update to its O3D API for building rich, interactive 3-D applications in a browser, tuning it for different types of hardware.

Highlighted at the Google I/O conference in May and shown running in a Google Chrome browser at that time, O3D enables 3-D graphics and features a JavaScript API. IT began as an effort to establish an open Web standard for 3-D graphics. An update was released Monday.

[ Google is also seeking a faster Web. ]

"With today's release, we focused on addressing a theme we heard in the requests and feedback from the community: That O3D should run as well as possible on many different types of hardware," said Google product manager Henry Bridge in a blog post. "Toward that end, we're releasing two new additions: Software rendering and feature requirements. If you've already installed the O3D plugin, you should receive these additions automatically."

Software rendering lets O3D use the main processor to render 3-D images if the machine running the application does not have supported graphics hardware. The concept of feature requirements, meanwhile, will help minimize how often O3D has to fall back to software rendering.

"Feature requirements allow developers to state upfront that their app will require certain hardware capabilities to render properly. If the machine running the app supports those features, O3D will run it fully hardware accelerated; if however, it is lacking any of the required capabilities, O3D will drop into a software rendered mode," Bridge said.

Other features include a full-screen mode to make O3D applications more absorbing and a community gallery featuring demonstrations that use O3D. Developers can submit applications for inclusion in the gallery.

O3D is intended to use hardware acceleration on a variety of GPU chip sets to provide high-end real-time 3-D graphics on most systems.