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Microsoft Offers Optimization Tool for Mixed Reality Mobile Apps

Microsoft last week unveiled a new tool to ease and quicken the problematic process of optimizing 3D models for mixed reality apps for iOS and Android mobile apps.

The tool, which can also be used in conjunction with Microsoft's own Windows Mixed Reality platform, comes in an Azure Marketplace extension called Simplygon Cloud. Its underlying technology stems from Microsoft's acquisition of a Swedish company named Simplygon in January.

Addressing the onerous and time-consuming process of 3D model optimization, Microsoft said Simplygon Cloud makes 3D development easier, faster and cheaper.

"Historically, 3D asset optimization has taken days or weeks of manual effort and is one of the tasks that artists and developers dislike the most," Microsoft said in a blog post last week. "With Simplygon, you can create 3D assets once -- at full visual fidelity -- and automatically optimize them to render smoothly on any platform – within minutes, saving valuable time and money."

The functionality of the Simplygon Cloud is exposed through a Simplygon Cloud C# SDK and a REST API. Using those tools, developers can create 3D models once at full fidelity and optimize them for smooth rendering on any platform, condensing the "days or weeks of manual effort" down to mere minutes, Microsoft said.

Those platforms and mixed reality devices include HoloLens and Windows Mixed Reality headsets, ARKit on iOS, ARCore on Android, and WebGL-powered Web browser implementations. Simplygon Cloud offers support for ingesting GLTF, FBX and OBJ file types, while supporting rendering engines such as Unity 3D and Unreal Engine.

"With Simplygon Cloud you can easily build cloud-based 3D pipelines for optimizing on-demand assets and existing catalogs," the Simplygon Cloud entry on the Microsoft Azure Marketplace says.

For example, in presenting the following figure as an example, Microsoft said: "As an example, the above left 3D model of a couch was built with 584,000 polygons. To render this content on a lower GPU device, Simplygon optimized this down to 5,000 polygons, which greatly reduces the file size, while maintaining the ideal visual fidelity for the intended device."

Before-and-After Optimization
[Click on image for larger view.] Before-and-After Optimization (source: Microsoft).

More information is available on using Simplygon Cloud in the product's documentation and a Getting Started article.

About the Author

David Ramel is the editor of Visual Studio Magazine.

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