Given the developments over the last year in AR/VR technology, glTF and USDZ are going to be the most important formats for 3D models. In fact, we think glTF and USDZ are now essential to most companies focussed on AR/VR. As a result, formatting your 3D models to glTF and USDZ enables a lot of user experiences. Let us look at some of them.
Apple announced their support for USDZ in WWDC 2018 as part of ARKit 2. In collaboration with Pixar, Apple launched this new open file format that enables several new experiences.
iOS 12 makes it easy to experience AR nearly anywhere in iOS.
Quick Look for AR allows users to place 3D objects in the real world to see how the objects look and feel in your space. Interestingly, this feature enables a wide range of applications such as trying out furniture in your home or experiencing an animated character in your backyard.
Most importantly, Safari supports AR Quick Look. This allows websites to link USDZ models on their webpages and users to view these models in AR directly from their Safari app. You, as a business owner, do not need a dedicated app to enable this AR experience.
Sharing across apps
Users can share USDZ objects using several apps in iOS12 such as Mail, Messages, Files, News and of course, Safari. Sharing AR experiences on these apps will be as easy as shading usdz files. This is going to be magical for users!
QLPreviewController supports AR Quick Look of 3D objects in iOS12. Integrating AR experiences in your mobile app will be as easy as integrating QLPreviewController once you have USDZ formatted models.
For more customised AR experiences on iOS with ARKit 2, USDZ now provides far more power and enables two critical abilities for developers:
3D modelling process encapsulation: Until now, COLLADA (or.dae) format was usually used to import models into ARKit apps. A critical issue with this approach was that software engineers have to configure texture maps and play around with lighting to ensure fidelity of representation. This needed a lot of back-and-forth between 3D artists and software engineers to create the best experience. USDZ solves this problem by using a PBR modelling paradigm and packaging the model in a fully-specified self-contained file.
Over the network 3D models: By virtue of being a single file format and the support for runtime loading capability in ARKit 2, USDZ is the ideal format to load 3D models dynamically over the network to build magical AR experiences.
glTF is described as the JPEG of 3D by its creators. It is a runtime asset delivery format developed by Khronos Group 3D Formats Working Group. Since its creation, several platforms have started supporting glTF as a format to consume 3D content.
Several WebGL platforms such as three.js, BabylonJS, Cesium, A-Frame and many others support glTF loading. You can build rich AR/VR/WebGL experiences for your users using these.
ARCore now supports runtime loading of glTF assets without conversion to SceneForm format. As a result, you can deliver glTF formatted models over the network to your app and build AR experiences using ARCore. As with USDZ, this has amazing benefits of relatively predictable 3D model fidelity and easy over-the-network delivery of assets for apps.
Facebook AR Studio and 3D Posts
glTF formatted models are ideally suited to building AR Studio experiences as well as for 3D posts on your Facebook page. Here as well, using glTF models has the advantage that the Software Engineer or AR developer does not need to configure model parameters and textures.
glTF and USDZ Superformats
Converting your 3D assets to glTF and USDZ formats enables a lot of AR/VR/WebGL applications for your users. This can unlock new channels of engagement and business models for you. We believe these new formats are going to become fundamental to the AR/VR industry.
Do checkout our blogpost as a primer on various formats that currently used in the 3D industry.