YouTube, Nvidia aim to bring 3D video beyond gamer crowd

May 27, 2011, 3:30 PM UTC
nvidia 3d vision
Image by Mestra Ashara via Flickr

FORTUNE — There have been attempts to force 3D onto the Web since the Web was born. Remember Virtual Reality Modeling Language? VRML — a standard for creating 3D graphics, mainly with gaming and “Web experiences” in mind — was the laughingstock of certain parts of the then-smallish Web community in the mid-90s, mainly because hardware hadn’t caught up.

Well, stop laughing. Or anyway, keep it to a low chortle, because it seems like 3D on the Web is actually starting to become a thing. It might be a silly thing, but it’s still a thing. In the latest move, graphics chipmaker Nvidia announced that Google’s YouTube (GOOG) and Firefox would support its 3D Vision platform (now used mainly by gamers)  for videos.

Caveats abound. It works only on Firefox 4. Also, 3D Vision, a software/hardware package that costs about $150, must be installed on a compatible PC. And of course, users must wear 3D glasses, which come with the kit.

So, it’s only for people who really, really want it. And aren’t on a Mac. That doesn’t mean it won’t succeed — indeed, it most likely means that Nvidia (NVDA) will be able to keep its price points high for some time to come.

The company forecasts that there will be 40 million PCs with 3D Vision installed by 2015.

Movie studios in recent years have tried to push 3D films with some success. But that increasingly appears to be a fading fad. Nvidia though, says that what’s driving demand online is homemade 3D video and pictures. Sales of 3D cameras and camcorders are up.

There are only a few thousand 3D videos now on YouTube. But with amateur auteurs piling on to the technology, that number is “set to explode,” declares The Inquirer’s Lawrence Latif.