3D Model visualization and upload service Sketchfab has announced a $7 Million fundraising led by FirstMark Capital’s Matt Turck, with participation by Sketchfab’s previous investors Balderton, Partech, Borealis & TechStars . Sketchfab already counts 300,000+ 3D Files uploaded to date (up from 150,000 as of July 2014), and has prided itself on being on the forefront of 3D & VR technology, integrating with Facebook (to show 3D models in your newsfeed) as well as with the Microsoft HoloLens.
While back in 2012, wanting to be the YouTube of 3D files might have seemed like a stretch, the return of Virtual and Augmented Reality to the spotlight and the attention that it has been given by the largest tech players (Google Glass, Facebooks’ Oculus Rift, and Microsoft’s HoloLens) has brought Sketchfab’s complete product directly in the crosshairs of a market begging for 3D & Virtual Reality content. After all, Content is King.
Increasingly it is becoming clear that, once the consumer-grade version of Oculus Rift launches, there will be a land-grab by players looking to dominate your Virtual World, trying to make Virtual Reality the next great platform (in terms of monetization).
I spoke with Sketchfab CEO & Co-Founder Alban Denoyel about his plans for Sketchfab:
You seem to have accomplished your initial objective – or at least you are on your way – with key integrations and partnerships. Where do you go from here? What’s the unattainable goal now?
Well the number of partnerships we still have to make is basically unlimited.
- On the tools side: Our goal is to be native in all creation tools (3DsMax, SolidWorks…), 3D scanning apps (which means striking deals with google & apple when they release that), game engines like unity.
- On the publishing side: We still have many integration possibilities: Twitter, Tumblr, wordpress, eBay, to name a few.
- A new type of integration we are looking into is import integration: for example search and download Sketchfab content from within photoshop without leaving photoshop. We’ll be providing the first 3D search API.
Today Sketchfab stores static 3D images. Will you be storing animating VR files in the future? How do you see things playing out?
We are working on animation support, so you’ll be able to publish small animated scenes, like a character walking, or doors opening in the car. Since whatever you publish on Sketchfab is ready for VR, this will be usable as VR scenes. Typical example: one of the Oculus official demos is a Trex working on you in a corridor, you’ll be able to publish that on Sketchfab.
- We have an mvp of video textures, which allows more advanced / dynamic content as well
- Our annotations feature that you covered means you’ll be able to setup VR tours with a preset path
All in all, we won’t replace the ‘Unity’s of the world and game studios publishing advanced VR experiences, but we’ll be the easiest way to publish VR content for someone who knows nothing about it. Most of what we visit in the world is static: want to take a stroll through Rome? We will support this, and typically have more and more drone 3D captures.
We recreated the Oculus fox scene shown on their website: they show a 2D image, we are able to show a 3D embed and a direct option to view it in VR.
What’s your biggest challenge in the next 18 months?
Step 1: Grow the team, and get more and more mass market / consumer use cases. The goal is that tomorrow when a brand like Tesla releases a new car, publishing a virtual version of it on Sketchfab will be part of their launching plan. This means they’ll be able to embed it in 3D on their websites, you’ll be able to enter it in AR/VR, 3D print it for your kid, download it to put it in a video game, an ad, or a more advanced VR story.