Looking Glass may have just invented the successor to the 3D GIF

On June 15, 1987, CompuServe . presented GIF, a way to share photos – or animated sequences – anywhere. The amazing ability of The late Steve Welheit Graphics Interchange Format made it the perfect board for viral memes.

Now, a company called Looking Glass is trying to make holograms portable too.

“Imagine that we are in a parallel world and every movie that was shot was shot in color, but every human was watching in black and white,” said Looking Glass co-founder and CEO, Sean Fraine. “This is the situation we are in with 3D.”

He says that if you add all the CG movies, video game screenshots, 3D models, and portrait mode images – and yes, NFTs There are hundreds of trillions of pieces of 3D content that we only see in 2D.

for this reason holographic display company Looking Glass brings you a new image format that lets you peek inside a 3D scene, even if you’re viewing it on a regular flat screen. It’s built on web standards so you can view it in any modern web browser, like GIF or JPEG.

With Blocks, you can simply hover with your mouse or mouse over the “Picture” to get it 3D parallax effect, allowing you to “see” 3D depth. You can even open a web browser in a VR headset, then click the Enter VR button to be taken to a virtual room where you can examine it in full stereoscopic 3D. It is as if you are in a small art gallery.

But the really cool thing about Blocks is that you don’t have to take my word for it that way. We have included some of them over here in this story. Have you tried swiping around an image of a chocolate bar yet?

In fact, we share an original piece of art from edge Cameraman Alex Castro For the first time in 3D:

You see, my colleague Alex created a bunch of his work in Blender, creating a full 3D scene that you can fly through like a video game if you like. But since there is no good way to share this on the web, it generally has to take a flat 2D photo or maybe Animated GIF from his work.

Here’s the 2D version we posted the edge, 1 week ago today:

Giant robot head sucks into PS5 and Xbox Series X consoles and consoles.

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Below, find another version in which Looking Glass got a little bit artistic license to create a diorama-like effect, all from the same Blender files.

Look closely as you drag your mouse or finger very slowly across the image. See how it stops with each step? That’s because each block consists of up to 100 slices of a 3D scene, each slice “capturing” an image from a different perspective. It also means that your device has to load all these photos by the time you scroll, so it’s not exactly cheap bandwidth. Fraine says the block could be 2MB, or up to 50MB if it’s designed for 8K viewing.

In many ways, the technologies presented here are nothing new. Using parallax to create a 3D illusion on a 2D screen is actually an old technique, one that is exploited as a gimmick every decade or so. You can download apps for early smartphones that showcased the idea, and Amazon even tried to sell an entire phone around this concept. (I really fumbled.) Facebook does a 3D parallax trick If you upload portrait mode photos as well.

You can even find such things on the web if you search hard enough. In fact, Fraine says that the blocks are built on top of hundreds of open web standards—most notably WebXR. (The company plans to contribute to WebXR improvements but has not yet done so.)

What makes Blocks potentially so special, though, is that they live in an enclosure that can fit into any device of any resolution anywhere — and can be shared just as easily. Just send someone a link or embed the HTML code block in your website, and they can try that too.

Here’s the HTML we used for Alex’s art, for example, that lives in a simple iframe:

and here Link You can participate anywhere on the Internet:


“We really think that’s the missing ingredient,” says Fraine. So, today, the company Open a beta program Where 3D content creators can sign up to turn their content into blocks, starting with items created in Blender, Unity and Unreal. It will arrive in open beta this summer.

At the moment, converting 3D to block is rather practical. I understand that things like “user-friendly documentation” are still on the roadmap. The company already has plugins for Blender, Unity, and Unreal, but Alex had to send his work to Looking Glass itself for final mastery, and the company would only do this part of the non-deployable process.

Over time, Looking Glass says it will expand to “C4D, Zbrush, Procreate, nerfies…even portrait mode photos on iPhone and Android.” (I had never heard of nerfie before, But it looks great.) Phryne says the company has prototyped 3D video content where you can, for example, watch a stereoscopic 3D trailer for the next show. symbol picture movie on symbol picture Home and get multiple views on the procedure.

In case you haven’t caught it, I’m really excited about all of this. But the one thing I can’t figure out, and I’m not sure Look Glass has, is the working model. Frayne believes that Blocks’ strength lies in its dissemination across the open web, but it’s also clear that Look Glass He’ll be the one hosting the content – so the blocks are a bit more like a YouTube embed than a GIF or JPEG that you can host anywhere.

Does this mean we’ll end up watching pre-roll ads, like YouTube, before we can see the holograms? I lobbied Frayne about this, and he didn’t rule it out – only because he sees his company as a better host than Meta, for example.

He told me, “I think we all know what isn’t fun about the current internet and the pressures that are emerging in the world…this is an opportunity to do something different.” “If this is as large as we think it will be, the vector for the transition from 2D to 3D flat-Earths, then it is our responsibility to try as hard as we can to avoid some of the errors that occurred in the previous transitions.”

But Looking Glass plans this to be a business and not just a way to sell more 3D displays, of which there are now nearly 20,000 in the world. “There will of course be some paid stuff,” Fraine says, adding that he hopes to have conversations with creators during the beta program about how to monetize. (It seems that the NFT community is especially on guard to embrace something like lumps.)

For those with an actual glass screen display – it’s a product we’ve been following for years, watching it transform big box to me open post to me Over a square again and recently small vertical screen Designed to allow you to view your smartphone’s portrait mode images in 3D – Frayne suggests that its 3D displays will be the best way to view templates for some time to come. But while he’s not selling those screens at a loss, he admits his 50-person company has yet to turn a profit, and believes 3D software could become the second “flywheel” for business growth.

“Our devices are the best way to display holograms, and our software is the best way to share holograms.” That’s the idea anyway.

We’ll just have to find out if Blocks will proliferate and whether social media platforms embrace or reject them – perhaps in favor of trying to create them.