February 16, 2018 // 11:05 a.m.
The Khronos Group, best known for the OpenGL graphics application programming interface (API), has announced the launch of a geometry compression extension which it claims will help increase the usage of 3D graphics in web browsers, non-gaming applications, virtual, and augmented reality platforms.
Based on the open-source Draco compression library developed by advertising giant Google, the Khronos Group's GL Tranmission Format (glTF) extension significantly reduces the size of 3D assets as they are streamed to applications for loading and display. Given that glTF was originally developed to reduce asset size and the runtime processing required to unpack and use said assets, that's a major move - and one which could push 3D asset use further into resource-constrained devices such as smartphones and tablets.
According to the Kronos Group, tying Draco into glTF results in only positives: The size of both the application and its 3D assets are reduced to as little as a twelfth of their original size - meaning that, in the case of in-browser applications and other streaming models, performance is vastly improved and bandwidth usage lowered - with no loss of visual fidelity.
The code for the extension is available now on the official GitHub repository, and support is included for 'all major browsers, Android, iOS, and most other platforms' with additional integration into the UX3D engine and 3D web content engines Three, Babylon, and Cesium in the near future.