Jan. 13, 1998 Source: Paul Fishwick -- (352) 392-1414
GAINESVILLE, Fla. --- A software building block to help put virtual products on the World Wide Web, where they will look and behave like the real thing, is being released later this month by a team of University of Florida researchers.
The new software package is called MOOSE, which stands for Multimodeling Object-Oriented Simulation Environment, and the developers say it will create a new world for consumers.
"You'll be able to drive a car on the Web before buying it, or walk around inside a house on the market and test the faucets," said Paul Fishwick, an associate professor of computer science and engineering at UF whose research team developed the package. "Even [virtual reality markup language] cannot demonstrate how a product behaves; VRML simply lets you ‘walk' around a model of a car. Up to now there has been no dynamic model that tells the virtual car how to act like a car."
MOOSE software, which Fishwick calls "very portable," will be freely available to researchers for modeling, simulation and visualization.
"Modeling the geometry of an object has already become common," Fishwick said. "But the ability to model the behavior of virtual products is at the top of everyone's wish list. Because MOOSE opens the door to true interactivity through object-oriented behavioral modeling, it promises to be a first step into a not-too-distant consumer Nirvana where you can try out products on the World Wide Web -- before you buy.
"Software technology such as hypertext markup language (HTML) has created the Web as we know it, and virtual reality markup language has created a world of 3-D on the Web," he said. "The next big step in creating the Web of tomorrow comes with a markup language that can model behavior, not just a product's three geometric dimensions."
Fishwick said MOOSE contains a special modeling language called distributed modeling markup language, or DMML.
"DMML can be a ground-floor major player and backbone for standardizing the construction of Web-based virtual products that behave like the real thing," he said. "This backbone is essential before we can create a world of more and better virtual experiences. In that better world, engineering students will be able to program virtual behavior into their computer models, scientists will be able to see how combinations of chemicals will behave and sportsmen will be able to test a rod and reel."
Fishwick expects DMML will lead to an industry standard for behavioral object modeling. Standardization, he said, is good news for consumers because it can open the door to universal access to Web-based virtual products. "Models must be standardized to allow universal consumer access," said Fishwick. "The good news for the consumer will be that once model standardization is a reality, manufacturers of real products will be forced -- either through industry standards or competition -- to include a digital counterpart of whatever real product they sell on their Web sites. MOOSE can provide this standardization."
More information on MOOSE can be found on the Web at http://www.cise.ufl.edu/~fishwick.
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