The metaverse standards are necessary to ensure that the virtual reality world is built on a secure and reliable platform that works across all compatible devices. The standards help to promote interoperability, allowing virtual reality content to be shared and experienced across multiple platforms. The standards also help to create consistency throughout the metaverse, so that users can have a consistent experience no matter their device.
File formats that ensure interoperability of 3D content across different development platforms and also for different displaying devices are necessary. Developments and improvements in file formats have started several years ago and several companies are engaging to develop them further to a kind of HTML for the Metaverse.
The most popular and supported formats today are glTF (Graphics Library Transmission Format) and USD (Universal Scene Description).
The glTF (GL Transmission Format) file format is an open-source 3D file format that is gaining in popularity. It is designed for efficient delivery of 3D content and is optimized for the web and real-time applications. This file format is becoming increasingly popular due to its ability to provide rich, detailed, and interactive 3D content with a smaller file size than traditional 3D file formats. It supports a wide range of features including materials, animation, lighting, and morph targets. glTF also has a robust ecosystem of development tools, converters, and viewers to make creating, sharing, and consuming 3D content easier. glTF files are typically much smaller than other 3D file formats, making them easier to transfer and store. glTF files are designed to be streamed and loaded quickly, allowing for faster loading times in applications.
more information (Khronos Group)
USD / USDZ
The USDZ file format is a file format developed by Apple and Pixar for displaying and sharing 3D content in an easy and efficient way. It is a single file that combines a lightweight Universal Scene Description (USD) file with additional supporting files, such as textures and materials, in a compressed zip archive. USDZ files can be used in a variety of ways, such as viewing 3D content in augmented reality, displaying 3D content on the web, or creating interactive 3D experiences in apps. It is designed to be both powerful and easy to use, allowing 3D content to be easily shared and experienced across multiple devices and platforms.
The USDZ file format became open source to make it easier for developers to create 3D content for augmented reality applications. Making the file format open source also allows it to be used in a wider range of applications, such as 3D printing, virtual reality, and gaming.
USD was first used in the Pixar film "Brave" back in 2010, Most 3D applications support the USD format including Maya, 3ds Max, Cinema 4D, ZBrush, Nvidia Omniverse, Blender, Houdini, and more. Apple devices have built-in USD viewing capabilities
In August 2022 NVIDIA announced a broad initiative to evolve Universal Scene Description (USD), the open-source and extensible language of 3D worlds, to become a foundation of the open metaverse and 3D internet. NVIDIA is working together with Pixar, as well as Adobe, Autodesk, Siemens and other companies to expand USD’s capabilities enabling it to better support industrial metaverse applications in architecture, engineering, manufacturing, scientific computing, robotics, and industrial digital twins.
USD helps to bring files from different applications for 3d development together and combine them into a complex scene. Tools for Animation, Character, Layout, and Simulation can deliver inputs for a scene.
The USD framework includes the Hydra rendering architecture that helps to plugin the USD scenes to various applications.
Several USD files can be composed into structures in other USD files to build huge scenes. The top scene allows even to change properties of embedded USD files to be controlled.
more information (Pixar)
Conclusion and assessment of today’s standards
Open-source standards for 3d graphics and complex scenes enable developers working with different applications and tools to work together. Pixar’s fantastic move was to provide its USD format as open source. Today the most important applications for 3D development support that format and a lot of big names in the industry are working to extend the functionality of USD.
Nvidia announced work on including geospatial information to enable the format to create 3D content connected to real-world locations. On their roadmap is also a plugin to enable the use of the popular glTF format within USD. That will open the USD format for already developed content in glTF and therefore increase its widespread usability for 3D developers. It is planned furthermore to run USD in browsers, to include real-time proceduralism, high-speed updates, and streaming from IoT (Internet of Things) devices into USD scenes.
Today’s standards are focused to enable the 3D developers to work together and enable them to use different 3D applications and output to an interoperable format. That is already a big step towards a metaverse that can incorporate 3D worlds coming from different developers. Also, standardization towards rendering is happening. The Hydra rendering architecture of USD enables the format to be rendered through different rendering engines to display content on a variety of devices.
With its wide adoption, The Universal Scene Description format could become the HTML of the metaverse and virtual worlds.
It is foreseeable that the Metaverse will need not only 3D graphics standards but feature-rich extensions for example for privacy, security, ownership, and tradablility of virtual goods and environments. To enable a wide range of people to become content creators for the virtual world easier tools are needed. Today’s 3D development tools require deep knowledge and skills to create 3D objects. Future Artificial Intelligence (AI) could help with generators to make the creation process less technical. Together with easy-to-use in-world creation tools, content creation for virtual worlds would be accessible to a wider range of people.