Back in late 2020, Looking Glass, a company focused on holographic technology and based out of Brooklyn, released a one-of-a-kind 3D holographic display that could show portrait mode pictures in a cool 3D holographic format. Fast forward a couple of years and Looking Glass is aiming to transform the open web with its new Looking Glass Block technology. It is a new image format that allows you to view and share 3D content on any traditional device or platform. Check out the details right below.
Looking Glass Block: A New 3D Format for Web3
Looking Glass recently introduced a new way of sharing 3D content that has been created using Blender, Unity, or Unreal Engine on the internet: Holographic Embeds. These embeds leverage the company’s new Block technology and are built on common web standards, meaning you can view them on any web browser like Chrome, Firefox, or Edge.
Shawn Frayne, the co-founder and CEO of Looking Glass, says that if you combine all the CGI in movies, video screenshots, 3D models, portrait mode photos, and of course, NFTs, you will end up with trillions of pieces of 3D content. However, unfortunately, we will only experience these content pieces in 2D because of the lack of technology that could bring these 3D content pieces to traditional platforms.
“Imagine we’re in a parallel universe and every movie ever shot was shot in color, but every human being was watching in black and white. That’s the situation we’re in with 3D,” Frayne told The Verge.
With the Looking Glass Block technology, however, creators and 3D artists can easily convert their 3D content into embeddable links that can be viewed in 3D itself on a 2D platform. Confused? Check out this artwork by hovering your mouse or finger over it on Looking Glass’ official website. We have also embedded it right here for your convenience.
Get it? You are viewing a piece of 3D art on your display in a traditional web browser. You can see the object in the image move in different directions as if it is in 3D. It even reflects the light with the movements accordingly to create a photorealistic effect.
These embeddable 3D content pieces are called Blocks and they use advanced technologies to create the 3D parallax effect when you hover your cursor over them. A single Block, such as the above one, is made from 100 pieces of a 3D scene with each picture showing an object from different perspectives.
This means that when you are hovering your mouse over the image, your device is loading all those individual images and merging them together to create the 3D effect. According to Frayne, a single Block can be as small as 2MB or as big as 50MB. Hence, if you think about it, it is not that bandwidth-friendly.
Furthermore, it is worth mentioning that the concept of bringing 3D content to 2D platforms is not something new. Back in 2018, Facebook introduced a similar 3D photos feature to give your traditional portrait photos a 3D spin and share them on the News Feed, which is called just “Feed” now.
However, what makes Blocks special is the fact that they are stored in a single container and can scale to any kind of device or any resolution. Furthermore, they can be shared much more easily than other kinds of 3D content as they are built on top of hundreds of open web standards, especially WebXR.
Looking Glass is currently onboarding interested artists, 3D creators, and 3D content specialists as part of their pilot program. During the pilot, Frayne says that the Looking Glass team would be working with the experts to further develop, scale, and find a business model for the technology. The company will start the open beta testing program for Blocks this summer.
So, if you are a 3D content-focused artist or someone who creates 3D art pieces using Blender, Unity, or other tools, you can request to join the Blocks pilot program from its official website. Also, let us know your thoughts on the technology in the comments below, and stay tuned for more such interesting stories.