Today, Linden Lab announced that mesh imports, or the ability to import models created in external 3D modeling apps will be available for beta testing Q2 2010. For architects and other AEC professionals and educators, this has been the long awaited ‘holy grail’ for integration with virtual worlds. Instead of having to replicate designs or as-built models in Second Life from scratch with primitive objects, mesh imports hold the potential to reduce the steps necessary to bridge the 3D models architects develop as a matter of daily practice – making it far more feasible to leverage the multi-user, online, virtual environment as a visualization and collaboration tool.
As I approach my 4th rez day on the virtual frontier (having longed for the ability to import CAD models for as many years), I have to admit that I’m pretty excited about the possibilities. It may still be some time before it becomes quick and easy to bring a model straight from CAD into SL, and I’m not sure how the pricing structure will work, but this will definitely be something to look forward to trying out.