It’s easy to find multiple 2D images of virtually any product you might want to buy online, but 3D representations are another story — relatively few retailers offer 3D models of their furniture or clothing. That could change in the near future, as OpenXR standard developer Khronos has announced that it’s working with a significant group of retailers and technology companies to create universal 3D versions of products, suitable for AR and VR apps, as well as other 3D online shopping platforms.
The goal is to make 3D objects as consistent across sites and accurate in details as possible, so shoppers can trust virtual representations as they try on clothes in VR or test furniture options using AR in their homes. Retailers and manufacturers alike are preparing for further growth of 3D shopping, leading Khronos and others to develop scalable 3D object solutions that can be shared by retailers, advertisers, and customers.
Part of the task is harmonizing 3D models, but another part is developing specifications and guidelines governing creation and use of those models. Khronos expects that the commerce-specific work will influence prior standards, including glTF, OpenXR, Vulkan, and WebGL, all of which have been designed to enable platform-agnostic realistic 3D objects.
Khronos’ first step is creation of a 3D commerce exploratory group chaired by Wayfair’s Shrenik Sadalgi, with hopes to advance to working group status if it can achieve broad industry support. That level of support appears to be quite likely: Brick-and-mortar retailers Ikea, Lowe’s, Target, and Williams-Sonoma are already on board, alongside ecommerce mainstays Houzz, JD.com, Pinterest, Shopify, and Wayfair. Top makers of 3D hardware and software including Adobe, Autodesk, Nvidia, Qualcomm, Samsung, and Unity are also involved in the group, as are tech giants Facebook, Google, and Microsoft, all of which have produced VR or AR devices.
“The expanding ability for consumers to visualize products in their home, true to their actual size, is improving trust and confidence in online shopping,” said 3XR CEO Mike Festa. “High-quality 3D content is the foundation of great XR experiences, and it is vital that industry leaders collaborate on standardization to maximize accessibility. We are thrilled to be taking on this challenge as a part of the 3D Commerce Exploratory Committee and encourage you to join us.”
Both VR and AR have been predicted to go well beyond “gimmick” status as key tools for retailing over the next several years, and a recent Gartner estimate suggests 100 million consumers will use AR to shop by 2020. Beyond Khronos’ participants, major retailers such as Amazon, Nike, and Walmart have committed resources to VR and AR initiatives for customers; Walmart also uses Facebook’s Oculus Go devices to train employees.