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Nvidia: Universal Scene Description (USD) as the Language of the Metaverse

NVIDIA Blog | Rev Lebaredian and Michael Kass | Aug 9, 2022

USD - Nvidia:  Universal Scene Description (USD) as the Language of the Metaverse

The web has evolved from static documents to dynamic applications involving rich interactive media. Yet despite the fact that we live in a 3D world, the web remains overwhelmingly two-dimensional.  Now we find ourselves at the threshold of the web’s next major advancement: the advent of the 3D Internet or metaverse.

Instead of linking together 2D pages, the metaverse will link together virtual worlds. Websites will become interconnected 3D spaces akin to the world we live in and experience every day.

  • Many of these virtual worlds will be digital twins reflecting the real world, linked and synchronized in real time. Others will be designed for entertainment, socializing, gaming, learning, collaboration, or commerce.
  • No matter what the purpose of any individual site, what will make the entire metaverse a success will be the same thing that has made the 2D web so successful: universal interoperability based on open standards and protocols.

See:  Highlights from McKinsey’s “Value Creation In The Metaverse” Report + Web3 for Skeptics by Brainsy’s CIO

  • The most fundamental standard needed to create the metaverse is the description of a virtual world. At NVIDIA, we believe the first version of that standard already exists. It is Universal Scene Description (USD)—an open and extensible ecosystem for describing, composing, simulating, and collaborating within 3D worlds, originally invented by Pixar Animation Studios.

USD potential to serve as the HTML of the metaverse

  • USD is a scene description: a set of data structures and APIs to create, represent, and modify virtual worlds.
  • The representation is rich. It supports not only the basics of virtual worlds like geometry, cameras, lights, and materials, but also a wide variety of relationships among them, including property inheritance, instancing and specialization.
  • It includes features necessary for scaling to large data sets like lazy loading and efficient retrieval of time-sampled data.
  • It is tremendously extensible, allowing users to customize data schemas, input and output formats, and methods for finding assets.
  • USD covers the very broad range of requirements that Pixar found necessary to make its feature films.
  • Layers are probably the single most innovative feature of USD. Conceptually, they have some similarities to layers in Adobe Photoshop: but instead of modifying the pixels of an image, USD layers modify the properties of the composed scene and provide a powerful mechanism for collaboration.


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NVIDIA believes that USD should serve as the HTML of the metaverse: the declarative specification of the contents of a web site. But just as HTML evolved from the limited static documents of HTML 1 to the dynamic applications of HTML 5, it is clear that USD will need to evolve to meet the needs of the metaverse.

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