Just days after the launch of Google Poly, the marketplace for 3D virtual objects that developers can use for augmented and virtual reality apps, SketchFab, the current leader in the space, is firing back with a major enhancement to its platform.
The company has announced an update to its Android app that adds ARCore functionality. The app, which was launched in July, along with an iOS version, gives ARCore developers access to over 2 million 3D models within the Sketchfab database.
"Mobile AR lets you navigate 3D content in a much more natural and intuitive way than a 2D screen," said Alban Denoyel, Sketchfab's co-founder and CEO, in a statement accompanying the announcement. "You can move around any object or scene with 6 degrees of freedom, just like you would in real life, or in VR, but without the limitations of either."
However, with tech giant-backed competitors like Microsoft's Remix 3D, and the new Google Poly, how exactly does Sketchfab plan to maintain its grip on the growing number of AR developers in need of easily accessible virtual objects?
"Regarding Google Poly, I think it will help democratize 3D as a medium, which is good for the entire industry," Denoyel told me, a day before the app's ARCore update. "Other than that, we have an important technical head start — we support more than 50 native 3D formats, they support maximum three, from what I know. And [we have a] big community [(1 million registered users)] and a content head start with more than 2 million 3D models."
It remains to be seen whether or not that head start will allow Sketchfab to fend off the efforts of Google and Microsoft, but if the concept of community among developers and designers means anything, then the tight-knit community at Denoyel's site stands a good chance of sticking around.
"There is room for more than one platform for sure, but I expect content creators to look for a format agnostic and independent platform," says Denoyel. "That's what happened [in the past] with video, image, sound."