The Promising Future for WebGL – Part 3: Beyond Games
Beyond games,WebGL has broad applicability in the education, scientific and simulation space as well. In my opinion, the best compendium for WebGL experiments can be found on the Google Chrome site, with my favorite being the 3D aquarium: this one rivals similar ones I’ve seen built in the Unity engine. But I’d be amiss if I didn’t mention how gorgeous Alexsandar Rodic’s jelly fish experiment is which I first encountered back in spring or summer of 2010 at a WebGL MeetUp in SF. There are likely many strong use cases for WebGL outside of gaming.
To categorize just a few, here are just a few cool non-game related applications WebGL is being applied to:
Earth and Space
- Cesium from AGI, a virtual globe and map engine
- Mother Earth – 7 WebGL Experiments
- Google’s MapGL - Google Maps meets WebGL
- Switzerland 3D from OpenWebGlobe, includes an open source SDK for creating large-scale virtual globes in WebGL
- SpaceGoo - a solar system in WebGL
- Solar System Explorer - an experimental orrery using HTML5, WebGL, and jquery
- JLabStudio - WebGL tutorial using a globe
- 3D Asteroid - Orbit Space Simulation
CAD Display and CAD Tools
- Tinkercad 3D CAD development tool
- Bevelity, a content creation tool and light weight rendering engine
- STEP-NC WebGL Demo
More can be found on Pearltrees - CAD in the browser with WebGL
- Glow’s Animated Volume Particle and another nice particle experiment is Cedric Pinson’s particle WebGL demo
- Animated Particle System from Worlds of WebGL
- Oak3D’s demo particles
…and this is but a few!
Many simulations on the GPU using WebGL (with some very nice math!) can be found on -
It was fun to add more daughter’s photo to Surface by Paul Lewis. This screen shot of Marielle inside Surface does not do justice to the fact that you can change some given parameters and make the image interactive. You can tweak the magnitude, elasticity, auto orbit, wireframe, and even add some raindrops to interject some mood into the your image demo.
Rutt-Etra-Izer is another fun image manipulation app from the Hongkiat.com WebGL Chrome Experiments site.
But wow, what a completely different look Marielle has ;). Lastly, if you’re into image data collection, check out the WebGL Demo – Picture map.
I recently came across a nice compendium of WebGL enabled 3D printing applications on the Developing Dream blog. One of the early WebGL supporters for 3D printing that stands out is My Robot Nation, acquired by 3D Systems, as has Cubify, (recall that I used a photo of the WebGL 3D “print” I made at Cubify as the first image in part 1 of this series) been acquired by 3D Systems. And while it’s undeniable that WebGL holds great promise for 3D printing technology, 3D printing is not without its detractors, as evidenced by being at the top of the 2012 Gartner hype cycle, where 3D printing is one of the technologies identified as being at the Peak of Inflated Expectations in this year’s Emerging Technologies Hype Cycle.