Neil_TrevettThe 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.

I had a chance to sit down with the Khronos Group President Neil Trevett at SIGGRAPH where he explained the significance of the emerging consensus around the glTF standard. He expands upon what glTF includes, and what it doesn’t. For example, there are not (yet) any point clouds or light fields within glTF, but that glTF is extensible. He also emphasized that previous efforts for an open formats such as VRML and X3D have included definition of run-time behavior, but glTF is meant to be simply a general-purpose, lightweight container for 3D objects and textures. The code and logic for what to do with these assets will be left to the application coded in any language such as JavaScript, C#, C++ or other emerging languages

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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.

There’s a glTF validator that’s already available, and for more information, then be sure to check out this glTF resource page on the Khronos Group’s website.

UPDATE: I’ve incorporated a number of clarifications from Neil into this article.

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