<Press Release>
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January 30, 1997

Sony Begins OEM Sales of Community Place
VRML2.0 3D Internet Browser and Multi-User Server Software

Tokyo, Japan -- Sony Corporation today announced that "Community Place," the VRML 2.0 version software that creates a multi-user, three-dimensional (3D) environment over the Internet or Intranet, is now being offered in the United States on an OEM basis to Internet/Intranet system integrators, service providers, 3D graphics vendors, PC companies and others. The product announced today comprises browser software and multi-user server software. The Information Technology Company (ITC), a division of Sony Corporation (headquarters: Tokyo, Japan), will receive orders directly from interested U.S. companies. ITC introduced Community Place products to the Japanese market in September 1996.

Product name
Community Place Browser (for Windows 95 / Windows NT)
Community Place Bureau (for Sun)
Community Place Bureau World Location Server (for Sun)

With server-client, Community Place enables users to interact in the same 3D space, complete with 3D object behavior, sound and moving video images. Communication is primarily text-based using "chat" functions. Sounds and gestures to the avatar can be added for more life-like communication. The browser can currently be downloaded from the World Wide Web at the following address: http://vs.spiw.com/vs *this link is no longer active and a revised page does not exist.

Community Place Browser -- Main characteristics
The client software that supports interactive communication in a 3D environment, complete with sound, images and motion, on Windows 95 and Windows NT platforms.
  • Based on the final VRML 2.0 specifications
  • Integrates the Java language
  • Supports multi-user communication (text-based and voice-based)
  • Supports several 3D acceleration chips
  • Works with Netscape Navigator
  • Operates as plug-in software or helper application

Community Place Bureau -- Main characteristics
Controls multi-user information and consistency of shared behaviors over the network and is composed of a multi-user server and name server.

  • Multi-user server:
    - Multi-user environment based on VSCP (Virtual Society Server Client Protocol)
    - Script sharing
    - Text-based group or one-on-one chatting facility
    - Data transmission using TCP
    - Socks support for firewall transversal
    - Scalable server mapping and server process to one world
    - Support for up to 300 users
    - User authentication
    - Can save connection settings as log data
    - Server administration and analysis tools included

Community Place Bureau World Location Server (WLS) -- Main characteristics
The World Location Server links world names to the multi-user server.

  • Easy to change system structure (contents changes not possible)
  • Can be set to control multiple multi-user servers
  • Can save connection settings as log data
  • WLS administration and log analysis tools included

Product Development History
In October 1995, Sony announced the development of its VRML 1.0 and Sony extended version multimedia browser software, "Cyber Passage," at Telecom '95, held in Geneva, Switzerland. While testing the Beta version of Cyber Passage, Sony co-authored with Silicon Graphics Inc. and World Maker the "Moving Worlds" proposal in an effort to contribute to further refinements of the VRML 2.0 specifications. In May 1996, Sony released free of charge the Beta version of the world's first VRML 2.0 browser. Final specifications of VRML 2.0, with full reflection of refinements made on Moving Worlds, were announced in August 1996 in the United States at SIGGRAPH 96. The Community Place system represents the first product in United States from Sony that builds upon previous Beta releases and provides a VRML 2.0 compliant browser with Java language support. (Note: Cyber Passage was officially renamed Community Place in September 1996.)

Sony's Efforts in VRML Arena
Sony is committed to the popularization of VRML through ongoing research and development as well as further promotion of related business areas. Sony believes that VRML will gain popularity in such diverse fields as entertainment, architectural design, virtual reality, games and design reviews over the network.

Sony, in working toward the standardization of VRML 3.0 specifications, plans to propose "Living Worlds" with Blacksun Interactive and ParaGraph International. The company hopes to work with VRML content makers, Internet/Intranet service providers and system integrators to contribute to the development of new communications methods.

About ITC
The Information Technology Company (ITC) is one of ten division companies of Sony Corporation, headquartered in Japan. ITC manufactures and sells such information technology related products as personal computers, workstations, digital still cameras, computer monitors and head-mount displays. ITC net sales for the fiscal year ending March 1997 are expected to be approximately US$2 billion.