Race is on to exploit 3-D

by Dan Lavin

A raft of third parties are developing products based on the extensive 3-D capabilties in NeXTSTEP 3.0.

Stone Design and nPOINT have both gone public with their plans, and as many as four other companies, including European developers, are quietly in development.

Initial reports place all the products in the category of enhancers. Enhancers create special effects, such as flying logos, textured surfaces, and realistically lighted reflective objects for desktop publishers and graphic designers. They provide a front end to RenderMan, an engine for creating images in three dimensions in the same manner that TouchType and Create provide a front end to PostScript.

The slow Photorealistic RenderMan, the real-time Quick RenderMan, and network tools to allow distributed rendering are bundled with NeXTSTEP 3.0, along with NeXT's 3DKit, which provides programmatic access to the tools.

Stone, publisher of Create and DataPhile, has a product code-named 3DMan it plans to ship to coincide with the release of 3.0 at the end of August. The introductory price is expected to be $99.

And nPOINT, a start-up, plans to ship Blast3D in the fourth quarter. The company, specially formed to exploit 3-D on the NeXT, has been working on the product for a year.