The tech industry’s biggest players, including Apple, Adobe, Pixar, Autodesk, NVIDIA, and the Joint Development Foundation, have recently come together to form the Alliance for OpenUSD (AOUSD). This alliance has a clear mission: to standardize, develop, and evolve Pixar’s Universal Scene Description technology. The goal of the alliance is not only to promote 3D creativity but also to foster interoperability among tools and data. By bridging the gap between creative assets in the 3D arena, the Alliance for OpenUSD aims to enable experiences that can be accessed across various channels. This move has the potential to revolutionize the way we work and entertain ourselves, including paving the way for the integration of virtual reality and boosting the Metaverse’s potential.
The Background of OpenUSD
OpenUSD has an illustrious history, originating as a project of Pixar Animation Studios in 2012. It served as the 3D foundation for Pixar’s feature films until it transitioned to open-source in 2016. In 2018, Apple collaborated with Pixar to develop USDZ Universal, a file format specifically designed for creating 3D models for augmented reality. According to Steve May, Chief Technology Officer at Pixar and Chairperson of AOUSD, “Universal Scene Description was invented at Pixar and is the technological foundation of our state-of-the-art animation pipeline.” He emphasized the extensive research and application that went into OpenUSD, stating, “OpenUSD is based on years of research and application in Pixar filmmaking. We open-sourced the project in 2016.” OpenUSD’s influence has since expanded beyond film, visual effects, and animation, making its mark in industries that increasingly rely on 3D data for media interchange.
OpenUSD offers high-performance 3D scene description technology that has already made a significant impact on the production and delivery of 3D content. It has found applications across various sectors, including architecture, engineering, construction, and manufacturing. The formation of the Alliance for OpenUSD aims to expand and standardize the OpenUSD specification for even broader use. The potential inclusion of OpenUSD within other standards bodies’ specifications post-standardization is a promising sign of its acceptance and compatibility.
Apple’s Focus on 3D Assets and Augmented/Mixed Reality
Apple has long been known for its focus on 3D assets and augmented/mixed reality. The company sees these technologies as integral parts of its future computing endeavors. In fact, Apple’s Vice President of the vision products group, Mike Rockwell, 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 actively contributed to the development of USD and considers it an essential technology for its groundbreaking visionOS platform and the new Reality Composer Pro developer tool. The company looks forward to fostering the growth of OpenUSD into a widely adopted standard.
The Meta Absence and the Significance of the Alliance
Notably absent from the Alliance for OpenUSD is Meta, which could indicate the challenges the corporation is currently facing, especially considering its significant investment in AR. Despite this absence, the formation of the alliance and its initiative to establish a standardized 3D creative process mark a critical milestone in the evolution of the metaverse. As the boundaries between digital and physical realities continue to blur, this united approach from major industry players is pivotal. It establishes a solid foundation for interoperability, a crucial aspect of crafting immersive, cross-platform metaverse experiences. The widespread adoption of OpenUSD could accelerate the emergence of a vibrant and accessible metaverse, revolutionizing how we interact with digital content.
The Alliance for OpenUSD represents the collective effort of tech industry heavyweights to standardize and advance 3D creativity through Pixar’s Universal Scene Description technology. By fostering interoperability and expanding the use of OpenUSD, the alliance paves the way for virtual reality to become an integral part of our everyday lives. As the alliance continues to develop and formulate explicit specifications for OpenUSD, its potential impact on various industries and the metaverse cannot be underestimated. With Apple’s active involvement and the support of other major players, the future looks promising for OpenUSD and its role in shaping the future of digital content creation and consumption.