Cooliris - the extension that transforms your browser into a 3D environment for thumbing through photos and videos - has been a crowd favorite for its creative use of the browser platform. But one question always comes up: Can browser extensions be a business?

Last night, Cooliris released a new set of features for its users. And while the functionality is interesting, the most compelling part of the release may the part they didn't mention: one of the new features may hold the key to a revenue stream for the company.

At first blush, Cooliris 1.9 appears to focused on personalization. The product now offers the ability to save favorites, change some of the presentation options for the flow of imagery, and the ability to customize the background image. They've also added the ability to search and watch Hulu videos (for those in the US) from within the Cooliris viewer.

But for as simple as it sounds, it's the background image customization that holds the additional revenue potential for Cooliris - advertising revenue, but revenue nonetheless.

Click on the Cooliris "Discover" option, select "Sci-Tech," and you'll be greeted by a number of interesting photos sitting on a backdrop that advertises "Gears of War 2." The ad is obvious and yet unobtrusive. Within the photo stream, you'll also find images from the game that are paid placement ads.

Will a new ad unit in a rapidly softening ad market be the key to survival? Not likely. But it's a step in the right direction. And one thing is for sure: some revenue is always better than no revenue. Plus, it's safe to assume that this is only one of many ideas that Shashi Seth - the former head of YouTube monetization who joined Cooliris as Chief Revenue Officer in June - has up his sleeve.

If you haven't seen Cooliris yet, it's definitely worth spending a few minutes to experience it. Its visual landscape truly changes the photo browsing experience. In fact, for some, Cooliris is so compelling that it's the first thing they show non-technical folks for "Wow!" factor. To see it for yourself, visit CoolIris.