Nonprofit ‘Croquet Consortium’ Releases Open-Source Software Tool Kit to Promote Collaborative 3-D Virtual Environments
DURHAM, N.C. – March 27, 2007 – A nonprofit consortium of academic and corporate partners announced Tuesday the release of a free software tool kit for developers to use in creating 3-D "virtual environments."
"We’re seeking to enable the creation of a rich series of interconnected ‘Croquet worlds’ where people can engage in productive collaborative interactions in support of learning and commerce -- worlds that can be created, maintained and continually modified without the constraints of proprietary computer code," said Julian Lombardi, assistant vice president of Duke’s Office of Information Technology.
The Croquet Consortium’s new "3-D Virtual Environments Software Developer’s Kit" (Croquet SDK 1.0) will promote collaboration among far-flung research teams working on everything from cancer cells to hurricanes, as well as active learning among students and their instructors. These networked 3-D teams from research, education and industry will be able to work together across a variety of computer platforms and devices, from laptops to cell phones.
"This will change the way people think about software and computation, from today’s device-oriented perspective to a perspective of computation as a persistent, pervasive service," said Patrick Scaglia, vice president of research and development at HP Labs.
Croquet 3-D virtual environments can support live discussion among worldwide collaborators who come together in "real time" within a 3-D virtual space. They may view, manipulate and revise documents, dynamic visualizations or large amounts of data from sources such as laboratories or supercomputing centers.
Added Greg Nuyens, chief executive officer of Qwaq Inc., "We have found Croquet to be a compelling platform technology for developing very large scale, richly featured and interlinked virtual environments. With the release of the Croquet SDK, we are excited about the new possibilities for using Croquet in our products and see benefits for developers everywhere."
For example, public health officials and epidemiologists across a country could use the Croquet environment to track the spread of an infectious disease by sharing a dynamically changing display of infection data. Similarly, architects and engineers could collaborate on a building design, or chemists and biologists could prototype different chemical compositions for a new drug.
The kit provides developers with a flexible tool to create virtual spaces with built-in networked telephony and a "late-binding object-oriented" programming language that allows multiple users to jointly create, animate or modify 3-D objects and dynamic simulations. Developers can also import and share resources, such as 2-D web applications or multimedia content, from their own systems. Working together across multiple locations, they can change simulations while they are running and work together to create new applications -- all in real time.