Universal Scene Description: The HTML of the metaverse

by | Sep 22, 2022 | Technology

Ever see the movie, “Finding Dory?”

The 2016 Pixar film about a blue tang fish with anterograde amnesia might not be your thing, but it could be compared to CERN, the first-ever website that went live August 6, 1991. 

What’s the connection? The animated film was the first to be built using Universal Scene Description (USD) — which, many say, is a foundational building block of the metaverse. 

In other words, USD is the HTML for 3D virtual worlds. 

“We weren’t thinking about the metaverse when we made USD,” Steve May, vice president and CTO of Pixar, said during a virtual panel discussion at Nvidia’s GTC event this week. “We did not anticipate that USD would grow this rapidly and this broadly.” 

[Follow along with VB’s ongoing Nvidia GTC 2022 coverage »]

Without a doubt, the metaverse is one of the hottest topics of discussion in the tech world — how to build it, govern it, monetize it — and USD is being lauded for its pivotal role in speeding up its evolution. 

And, in this, USD is on a journey the world has seen before. 

An easily extensible, open-source framework for the interchange of 3D computer graphics data, USD was specifically built to be collaborative, to allow for non-destructive editing, and to enable multiple views and opinions. 

Many compare its current iteration to HTML: Assets can be loaded and representation can be specified. Its next phase will be enhanced interactivity and portability — the CSS moment, so to speak. The general consensus is, “Let’s get to the JavaScript of USD,” said Na …

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