A new open source file format is helping pave the way for augmented reality.
Apple announced earlier this month they would adopt the new USDZ file format for 3D content across its AR-enabled iPhones and iPads, which can display illusory, animated images placed in your real surroundings. But the file format could also make its way to Android, Adobe’s head of AR has told VRScout.
Adobe’s Stefano Corazza said “there’s no obstacle” stopping Google from natively supporting USDZ on Android because the format is open source. The San Jose-based creative software company partnered with Apple and Pixar to develop and launch the file type.
“The fact that it can be natively opened by other devices is great because it’s an open format and that’s the beauty of it,” Corazza said, “and that’s why we are so happy to endorse it.”
“Because it’s an open format Microsoft and Google can adopt it too, there’s no obstacle to that,” he added.
Given Google’s history of supporting open-source initiatives, it’s possible the tech giant could make USDZ compatible with AR-capable Android devices in a future ARCore release. When asked to comment on USDZ coming to Android, a Google spokesperson didn’t rule it out.
“Google supports open formats and we’re excited to see continued investment in them from other companies,” the spokesperson told VRScout. However, Adobe noted they aren’t helping Google bring USDZ to Android.
USDZ, which stands for Universal Scene Description, was possibly the biggest piece of news to come out of this year’s WWDC. It’s a container file format for storing, sharing and working on 3D files for mobile devices.
The iOS 12 update will see USDZ content viewable in the Safari, Mail and Messages apps while delivering a faster and richer AR experience than other available formats, according to Apple.
The new file type is based on the USD file format created by animation studio Pixar. But another major contributor was Adobe, which provided its standard materials template to help develop the file format. Adobe has also announced a framework called Project Aero to support AR content creation in its popular design software.
Back in March, Adobe executive Mark Asher told us they were working to bring AR features to the market “as fast as we can” — and Aero appears to be what he teased. The upcoming update will allow Photoshop CC, Premiere CC and Dimension CC to work on AR content via USDZ so it can be brought into ARKit, a platform for iPhone and iPad app developers. Project Aero is now available for sign up via early access and the update will go live sometime in fall.
Corazza said Adobe will mostly focus on investing in Dimension CC, its 3D image creation suite, for AR content creation.
“Dimension is just at 1.0 right now,” he said, “there are a lot of features planned for the future that will expand dramatically the ability to create 3D assets in Dimension, so that will definitely be the primary course of 3D content for Aero.”
According to interactive media research firm SuperData, there are now more than 2,000 apps and 60 million people using ARKit apps on their iPhones and iPads. Adobe’s partnership with Apple will allow its Creative Cloud users to more easily bring their 3D creations into current and new apps without coding, Corazza said.
“There is a huge pool of people who want to do something really simple and emotional and tell a story,” he said. “And right now they are not served by anyone because you have to code C# or C++.”
Image Credit: Adobe