It’s official: I have just seen the coolest thing in my life, ever. It’s called My Robot Nation. They showcased at our last WebGL Meetup in San Francisco and brought the house down. Here’s what it is: a web site that lets you build, pose, adorn and paint your very own 3D model robot. When you’re done creating it, you click BUY IT! and a few days later it’s shipped to your door: a custom, 3D-printed creation that any kid can make in minutes (mine did).
This is the kind of application that is only possible now that 3D is in the browser. How else could a self-funded startup bootstrap an electrons-to-protons miracle and generate cash flow in its first month of being live? It just wouldn’t be possible. This is a long tail success story (early as it is) that shows the democratizing power of 3D with WebGL. Huzzah! And kudos to the MRN team: the interface is magical, totally easy to use and powerful enough to let you build nearly anything you can imagine (as long as it’s a robot).
Well, if this is what’s in store for WebGL we’re in great shape. I hope we see more like it.
Sidebar: I find it ironic that “Web3D,” an idea largely lifted out of Neal Stephenson’s novel Snow Crash nearly twenty years ago, is finally taking root in the real world in the form of another of Stephenson’s great books, The Diamond Age. Instead of VR as surrogate reality, it’s VR as interface to a plastic physical reality.
I guess that’s good; I liked The Diamond Age way better than Snow Crash anyway 🙂