September 29, 2007

The idea of a 3D web creeps closer everyday. Robert Scoble recently interviewed Mark Zohar, founder of SceneCaster. In a 35 minute interview Mark explains what SceneCaster is, and its advantages over current 3D worlds such as Secondlife.

SceneCaster is aimed at the average user and allows them to build a room or scene in 3D and accomplish this in a browser. They can then furnish it from SceneCaster’s rich database of objects or 3D objects that already online by simply importing and placing them in a scene. Because 3D objects can be sourced from existing 3D object libraries this means that learning curve for average users is not so steep.

For those who are already using 3D software you can create and import objects to your scene but it was obvious to me that the main strength of this service is the fact that people do not have to be 3D software experts to create a scene. So users personalise a scene rather than building a scene

SceneCaster connects objects to large eCommerce sites such as eBay and Amazon. Mark Zohar also explained how there would be product catalogs from leading manufacturers and retailers added as the site matured.

I have not been able to try it as at the moment it is only available for those who use a PC. Mark Zohar said that a Mac version was being worked on so I my impressions of this service are based on the interview.

I can see uses for it as a visualisation tool. For instance if you were decorating your home or if you are an interior designer you could layout and work out what it would look like and get a feel for what works before committing big dollars to a new look. I can see virtual shopping being a big thing too because you can see a model of the product before you buy. As I watched the interview my mind was running through possible self contained art projects that could be created. So there are plenty of applications that this service can be used for.

SceneCaster is also connected to social network sites such as FaceBook and Flickr but you can not have in-scene avatars. In other words you can not meet your friends for a chat and to socialise. I think this is the big downfall as it is fine being able to create a scene but most people will want to share and socialise in that scene.

A 3D scene is fine to look at but it will not hold people if the world simply contains objects. Even if they a very interesting objects an empty room is just that empty. For me without people ie avatars the immersive experience that is so addictive in virtual worlds is simply not there. Life online for me is about that ie life (other people) not things online particularly things online to buy. Although I do shop online it would only be a 2 or 3% of my time spent online. For me the net has always been a communication tool first. It is like this very important aspect of virtual worlds has been forgotten by SceneCaster.

For me without people a 3D scene is empty and for the majority of average users fairly pointless. What do you think?



  1. SceneCaster is touted as the latest in 3D web but as you rightly point out the makers miss the major point which is that it is about connecting people. And I’m not sure many people will really go for building 3D spaces using stuff linked to major e-stores unless they are able to derive financial benefit from it. Zohar’s interview makes it look like SceneCaster gets the revenue, not the user. From the interview and website, I’m not convinced of its advantages over SecondLife – perhaps I’m missing something here?

  2. I’ve signed up and have been creating scenes on SceneCaster. I have to tell you that it’s not only fun and engaging, it’s actually quite addicting. I created a number of scenes, including a meditation scene with a Buddha poster and some 3D objects I downloaded from the Google 3D Warehouse. I was also able to share my scenes with my Facebook friends and already received some feedback from three friends I hadn’t been in contact with for some time. You’re right that there are no “live” people in your scenes but that didn’t bother me. Everytime I’ve tried SL, I’ve been turned off by complete strangers approaching me and trying to chat me up. Think about most of the Web today…it’s about creating a community and connections through sharing ideas and comments; not necessarily by interacting in real-time on the Web with people you don’t know. I really like SceneCaster. It’s not for everyone but for me, it’s a much better solution than SL.

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