The Khronos Group announced that the open standard of glTF was gaining momentum by some of the key players within the graphics industry before SIGGRAPH this year. glTF provides a standardized baseline and interchange format to deliver 3D meshes to different tools and services, and it’s been described as being analogous to the JPEG format for images. The traction for a glTF open standard means that one of the fundamental building blocks for the metaverse is coming into place.
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Neil said that many major companies had been working independently on proprietary formats for transmitting 3D asset data so that agreeing on a common open standard prevents fragmentation and silo’d content that can only be understood by a single application. glTF is solving a different problem than authoring formats such as COLLADA, which enables exchange of 3D objects between all of the major authoring programs, and instead focuses on the efficient transmission of 3D assets to a run-time application, a much simpler problem. The glTF spec was released by Khronos in December 2015, the feedback from a growing number of companies such as Oculus and OTOY has been positive.
There are extensions being developed for glTF, such as physically-based rendering to compactly describe realistic material properties. But Neil emphasized that they want to keep the initial glTF specification lean and simple in order to make it simple to implement and to maximize adoption. They’ll be paying attention to industry adoption, and popular extensions can be rolled into future versions of the official glTF specification.
UPDATE: I’ve incorporated a number of clarifications from Neil into this article.
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