Remember Web 2.0? The revolution in web design that focused on user-generated content and collaboration? It seems weird to get excited about the idea now, but back in the early 2000s the change from a read-only web was a big deal. Now everyone is used to posting text, uploading videos and flooding social media with photos of their uninteresting children.
Well, buckle up, because thanks to Google’s new VR/AR asset store Poly we might be in for a flood of crude 3D models of people still uninteresting children, cats and more.
In all seriousness, VR/AR is in dire need of the same community-driven content creation that we see in the PC video game modding community or social platforms such as second life. So Poly might be more impactful than anyone realizes.
When you want to create your own AR or VR experience it can be pretty daunting to actually fill the gaping virtual void with objects. Google has a vested interest in getting more apps in its own app store that will drive VR platform consumption. In fact, with the current state of the VR industry, the rising tide will lift all ships. So it’s understandable why Google Poly is platform independent. Whether you are making something for ARkit or Android-specific, these models will work. It’s another example of Google trying to set an open standard or practice. The same way it did with Google Cardboard.
That doesn’t mean they haven’t sneaked a little more cross-promotion for their own products in. Poly is integrated with both Tilt Brush and Blocks. These are Googles own VR creation tools. Tilt Brush is a painting application and Blocks allows you to easily model things for VR. These programs are easy enough that you don’t have to be pro to make good use of them.
So now three pillars of modelling, painting and sharing can support a brand new user-generated resource.
The (Not Quite) Brand New Thing
Of course, 3D models in asset libraries is nothing new. People have been using platforms like TurboSquid for ages, but those are meant for pros with deep pockets. Poly seems to be more about community-created content. Yes, that inevitably means that most of it will be pretty bad, but with the right upvoting approach and just one in a hundred gems it has a chance to really enrich VR and AR as a whole by not locking out the smaller stakeholders. It’s also good that Google is the one to back such an approach, since they have the luxury of letting platforms like these ride for years without needing to see a return on them.