It’s becoming increasingly common to use 3D for developing web and mobile applications. However, this process still has a few inherent technical problems to surmount if it is to deliver its full benefits.

L’Atelier talked with Jean-Marc Le Roux, co-founder and CEO of Aerys, at the Laval virtual conference which took place on 20-24 March at Laval, in the Mayenne region of France. Jean- Marc is also the creator of Minko technology, a tool for developing and designing universal 3D applications for web and mobile. At the conference he ran a session on the latest uses of and challenges facing 3D for web and mobile.

L'Atelier: What are the latest 3D innovations for web and mobile?

Jean-Marc Le Roux: For the most part, recent IT innovations have come about as a response to the demands of the video games market. It’s a fact that the uses to which 3D is now put in the medical field wouldn’t have been possible without developments that were originally driven by gaming. In gaming everything really matters: 3D, sound, artificial intelligence, narration, and so on, so this is the field where IT is really being driven forward. Video games create new ways of doing things, new ways of interacting and telling your story. As the developers will have already carried out testing on the video game, we can then use these new advances for web and mobile applications. We now have 3D acceleration software for designing web applications, run by two main tools: Script WebGL which uses HTML, and Flash 11. When it comes to mobile, the main innovations have been on the hardware side rather than the software tools. Processors, for instance, have come a long way. The next Samsung 4 will have an 8-core processor, the equivalent of a processor used in a top-of-the-range office computer.

L'Atelier: Is 3D useful for the advertising and communication world? If so, how?

Jean-Marc Le Roux: As I mentioned, 3D in advertising owes a huge debt to video games. The various kinds of content created for the gaming sector have pioneered the development of rich, interactive applications. One example is badging systems. Some players such as (video games-maker) Ubisoft are leveraging their expertise in this field to develop applications. At Aerys we have a project for a tablet application which isn’t a video game but a three-dimensional real-time catalogue. Anyway, if you want to show off a product, you have to invest in the rendering aspect. Rendering techniques for video games have steadily moved towards ultra-realism, a way of creating immersive worlds. So now the main challenge for 3D is how users respond. 3D needs to get closer to everyday life, to be visually attractive and more intuitive. Someone who isn’t used to 3D will initially have some problems using it, and so we have to develop systems which don’t require the user to take a long tutorial to get going. Video games producers are gradually getting there, following the example of Ubisoft. This is what Unity is doing: the
company provides a suite of software tools for creating 3D web and mobile applications. Video games have been the starting point for all these applications.

L'Atelier: What other technologies are likely to be developed and what else can we do with what we already have today?

Jean-Marc Le Roux: The biggest issue is applications development. Users want to see much more detailed rendering. So production chains are heavier, requiring more content. The challenge is therefore to create the tools needed to design and develop applications. We have a sound technology base, but using 3D remains a hurdle. We need to raise our skills level and we need more documentation. Peripherals continue to make dramatic progress, and processor power doubles each year, but the major question is this: will we have the software tools to make full use of this capacity? At Aerys we use a compression and simplification technique. How heavy the application is has an immediate impact on the user. If it takes more than a second to download, the user will start to tire of the process. A mobile device is still less powerful than an office computer, and it remains a major challenge to provide readable content across several different types of device. Simplification is one solution: by taking down the resolution of a 3D figure, you can make it usable on a mobile device. In this case, using high resolution contributes little value. This means that you can start out with the same items and obtain three-dimensional objects which we can get to work both on the web and on mobile.