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OZ Virtual was a 3D world viewer created by OZ Interactive that enabled real-time collaboration communications in shared spaces on the Internet with a strong focus on creative content production[1].

The viewer supported the Virtual Reality Modeling Language (VRML 2.0) a standard for creating and experiencing virtual reality worlds on the Internet. It came with an avatar editor that allowed the user to select from a set of pre-defined avatars with body movements and modify their appearance. Users could communicate using voice chat using low bandwith codecs supplied by Voxware[2][3].

One of the features of this VRML browser was that anyone browsing a given URL could see and interact with any other users visiting the same URL at the same time[4][5], thus making it an instantaneous shared virtual space.

Timeline:

  1. The first version of the software was released in beta on July 24th, 1996, with support for VRML 1.0, avatars, and social interaction[6].
  2. A subsequent release on December 11th 1996 added support for VRML 2.0 including support for VRML 2 scripting using Java[7].
  3. OZ Virtual 2.0, released March 12, 1997, enabled editing of avatars, and embedding of various components of OZ Virtual onto web pages using ActiveX technology[8][9]
  4. The OZ Virtual technology was spun off from OZ Interactive into a separate company named SmartVR on November 24th, 1999[10].

Partnerships:

  • OZ Virtual was used to broadcast, in 3D using motion capture, a live concert co-hosted by Intel and OZ Interactive[11].
  • OZ Virtual 2.0 was used to create a 3D product showcase for Ericsson.
  • OZ Virtual 2.0 was also used to create a 3D world composed of Cartoon Network characters for Time Warner[12][13].
  • Atlantic Records used OZ Virtual to create a 3D site for its artists[14][15].
  • The Van Gogh Museum offered 3D renderings of some of Van Gogh's pictures which were created in OZ Virtual and made available on the museum's website.[16].

References

  1. ^ OZ Virtual Journey to the Dark Star
  2. ^ VRMLSite News March 1997
  3. ^ BusinessWire: Avatar Speech Technology Putting the Soul in the PC Machine; OZ Interactive Signs License Agreement with Voxware To Bring Real Speech Entertainment to 3D Avatars in Cyberspace.
  4. ^ Critique of OZ Virtual
  5. ^ Putting a human face on cyberspace (panel): designing avatars and the virtual worlds they live in
  6. ^ BusinessWire: OZ announces beta release of OZ Virtual, multi-user VRML software; participants work and play socially as their own persona inside virtually any 3D world on the Internet.
  7. ^ BusinessWire: OZ Interactive Announces Support for VRML 2.0.
  8. ^ BusinessWire: OZ Interactive Announces OZ Virtual 2.0, Newest Version of Leading 3D Multi-User Entertainment Browser for the Internet; OZ Virtual 2.0 Allows Users To Create Avatars With Body Movements, Voice Chat, Lip Sync And Facial Expressions For Best Web Entertainment Yet.
  9. ^ BusinessWire: OZ Interactive Announces Multi-User Communications Server For Building Entertainment Communities On The Web.
  10. ^ PR Newswire: OZ.COM(TM) Spins off Visual Technology Group into New Company, SmartVR(TM)
  11. ^ Business Wire: Oz Interactive and Intel Bring Real-World Party to 3D Internet; Party to take place simultaneously in New York's hottest nightclub and in a multi-user VRML model of it on the Internet
  12. ^ Forbes: The land of OZ
  13. ^ BusinessWire: OZ Interactive to bring popular cartoon characters to life on the Web with new cartoon engine.
  14. ^ Billboard: Atlantic to Bow 3D Web Site
  15. ^ BusinessWire: Oz Interactive Launches OZONE 3D Multi-User Entertainment Community on the Web; Atlantic Records Set to Build Virtual Concert Arena in OZONE
  16. ^ The Van Gogh Museum goes virtual at www.vangoghmuseum.nl

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