Tech industry’s heavyweights, including Apple, Adobe, Pixar, Autodesk, NVIDIA, and the Joint Development Foundation are embarking on the Alliance for OpenUSD (AOUSD). The alliance has a clear mandate to foster the standardization, development, and evolution, of Pixar’s Universal Scene Description technology. The alliance increases the possibility of virtual reality becoming part of our everyday lives in work and entertainment, including boosting Metaverse potential.
Th Alliance for OpenUSD says it’s committed to standardising 3D creativity, developing interoperability among tools and data. This move aims to bridge the divide between creative assets in the 3D arena, paving the way for experiences to be accessed across various channels. Consequently, creatives will find it more conducive to design 3D projects, products, and services to function across all compatible systems. As NVIDIA stated, “Standardizing OpenUSD will accelerate its adoption, creating a foundational technology that will help today’s 2D internet evolve into a 3D web.”
The consortium aims to offer more insight into their collaborative efforts at the forthcoming Academy Software Foundation’s Open Source Days on Aug 6 and Siggraph on Aug 8.
Exploring OpenUSD and Its Impact on 3D Creativity
OpenUSD has an illustrious lineage, originating in 2012 as a project of Pixar Animation Studios to serve as a 3D foundation for its feature films. It transitioned to open-source in 2016, leading to Apple’s collaboration with Pixar in 2018 to develop USDZ Universal, a file format conceived to create 3D models for augmented reality.
Steve May, Chief Technology Officer at Pixar and Chairperson of AOUSD, stated, “Universal Scene Description was invented at Pixar and is the technological foundation of our state-of-the-art animation pipeline.” He explained the extensive groundwork behind OpenUSD, “OpenUSD is based on years of research and application in Pixar filmmaking. We open-sourced the project in 2016.” May further highlighted the expanded influence of the technology, saying, “the influence of OpenUSD now expands beyond film, visual effects, and animation and into other industries that increasingly rely on 3D data for media interchange.”
It appears that the much-needed format has arrived. OpenUSD, with its high-performance 3D scene description technology, has already carved a niche in 3D content production and delivery. As noted on the AOUSD site, it has found wide application across sectors, including architecture, engineering, construction, and manufacturing.
The Future of OpenUSD
The alliance is poised to expand and standardize the OpenUSD specification to enhance its use. The fact that other standards bodies can include OpenUSD within their specifications post-standardization bodes well for its acceptance.
The Alliance for OpenUSD will work on formulating explicit specifications to define the functions of OpenUSD. By doing so, the group aims to facilitate broader adoption, implementation, and integration of the standard, and ensure its compatibility for inclusion in specifications by other standards organizations.
Apple’s focus on 3D assets and Augmented/Mixed reality has been well-documented. It’s perceived as part of a computing future that Apple has begun to showcase with the Apple Vision series.
Mike Rockwell, Apple’s Vice President of the vision products group, shared, “OpenUSD will help accelerate the next generation of AR experiences, from artistic creation to content delivery, and produce an ever-widening array of spatial computing applications. Apple has been an active contributor to the development of USD, and it is an essential technology for the ground-breaking visionOS platform, as well as the new Reality Composer Pro developer tool. We look forward to fostering its growth into a broadly adopted standard.”
Meta is a notable absence from this alliance. It could further indicate the current challenges for the corporation, especially considering its significant investment in AR.
Potential for the Metaverse
The Metaverse is a burgeoning digital ecosystem, combining virtual and augmented reality technologies with enhanced internet elements to provide remarkably realistic personal and professional experiences in the digital domain. Accessible from your home via a web browser or headset, the Metaverse enables real-time user interactions, regardless of geographical separation.
The Alliance for OpenUSD’s formation and its initiative to establish a standardized 3D creative process signifies a critical milestone in the evolution of the metaverse. As the borders between digital and physical realities continue to blur, this united approach from major industry players is pivotal. It sets a solid foundation for interoperability, indispensable in crafting immersive, cross-platform metaverse experiences. The widespread adoption of OpenUSD could, therefore, accelerate the emergence of a vibrant, accessible metaverse, impacting various sectors and potentially revolutionizing how we interact with digital content.