Siggraph 2022, set in Vancouver and virtually, was filled with the usual array of beautiful and amazing images, startling new developments in processors and displays, and a myriad of other CG wonderment, in other words, just a normal Siggraph—with one exception this year—the metaverse.
The metaverse is here, again, and guess what, we invented it. Who is “we”? Anyone who writes about it, which is just about everyone. So all the press releases include some claim to powering, creating, platforming, and delivering the meta, meta metaverse. However, you can’t just go out and buy three kilos of metaverse just yet—it’s a promise, not a reality.
Khronos apply says it’s not a destination… or a platform… or an app. It’s a metaphor.
So the next press release you read with the word “metaverse” in it, substitute the word metaphor and see what you think.
Gigantic Corp. is powering the metaphor…. Balzo Inc. is the platform of the metaphor and….
Kinda like buying virtual real estate—the emperor’s new clothes.
But, the interoperability of 3D worlds for the exchange of information, assets, and tokens is real. Not frictionless just yet, but the concepts and the tools are there or very close. And that leads to a new stress point—who gets to say what the standards, the real foundation of a new paradigm, are?
We (the royal JPR) think it should be an independent, open organization, not a single company or even a group of like-minded companies that have formed a self-serving consortium.
The broader implications of the metaverse exceed the parochial interests of a platform provider. At the same time, at this time, they are vague, shadowy, and even mysterious. There are a lot of things the metaverse isn’t. It isn’t any single platform or experience. It’s not all on the blockchain. It isn’t just games; experiences are not all interoperable There are no guidelines or standards for content It isn’t finished, figured out or finalized; it’s just an idea, a dream, a goal—it may never be realized in its fullest imaginable sense.
But. You have to start somewhere. Even if where you start doesn’t scale and you have to abandon it later. That’s how you learn and make something great.
We have a start. A damn good, well founded, and funded, start, and it comes from the standards organizations IEC, ISO, JTC1, and Khronos, and that’s just the first wave.
That groups of standards bodies proposes to build the metaverse on the glTF (GL Transmission Format) file format.
glTF is an API-neutral runtime asset delivery format. glTF bridges the gap between 3D content creation tools and modern graphics applications by providing an efficient, extensible, interoperable format for the transmission and loading of 3D content.
glTF is a royalty-free specification for the efficient transmission and loading of 3D scenes and models by applications. glTF minimizes both the size of 3D assets, and the runtime processing needed to unpack and use those assets. glTF defines an extensible, common publishing format for 3D content tools and services that streamlines authoring workflows and enables interoperable use of content across the industry.
We have written about it several times since 2017:
Khronos Group expands glTF
Khronos hopes to help enable the metaverse
Khronos 3D Viewer Program and more…
The first uses of glTF will be in augmented realty commerce applications, the most common example being shopping for a sofa and visualizing it in your home with your smartphone.
|This is how cool that new sofa will look in your apartment|
glTF transfers assets and properties (meshes, materials, texture samplers, binary data, and animation data) of 3D objects from one environment to another and are viewable on any Web device and compatible program.
The metaverse will not be just some game played in VR—that’s just a scooter in the world of vehicles. The metaverse will be real life in real time and entertainment. And banking, and socializing, and almost anything you want it to be. But the first realizations of it will be in AR.
|This is the metaverse today.|
It will be used via glTF for serious, maybe deadly serious, work in CAD, computational fluid dynamics, geospatial, and it will be used for fun.
|Anchor points can map one image over another and maintain fluid movements.|
This is the beginning of the foundation of the metaverse. It’s started, and you were a witness to its birth. When your grandkids ask, where were you when the metaverse was formed, you can say, “Well, Mary, back in 2022 when we created the metaverse….