Before YouTube, posting video to the Internet was a pain. YouTube simplified the process though and the site became a hit because it was so easy for anyone to upload a video and embed it on their website.
Google bought YouTube just a year and a half after it was founded, though, because it became clear that in the coming years a great many people would need these features. It’s worth remembering that at the time of the purchase in 2006, phone cameras were a joke and people uploading videos from them to the Internet just wasn’t a thing people actually did. Fast forward a decade and YouTube has over a billion users and uploading videos to the site is practically a standard function on all mobile phones.
This is where Alban Denoyel is positioning his company, Sketchfab. This week, the 3D object hosting company is releasing a series of apps for VR devices like Rift, Gear VR, Cardboard and Vive as well as support for WebVR. Denoyel hopes these steps put Sketchfab in the same spot YouTube was a decade ago — simplifying the process of putting stuff on the Web.
Right now, if your browser is compatible with WebVR, an object embedded from Sketchfab should be viewable in VR just by pressing the button — the same as if you hit the “full screen” button on YouTube.
Sketchfab’s future will be influenced by how quickly a couple of emerging trends take hold. Within the last few weeks, VR creativity apps like Tilt Brush and SculptrVR started simplifying the process of creating 3D works of art in VR that could be easily exported from those apps. Now something you make in VR can be easily uploaded to Sketchfab and viewed across other headsets and on traditional screens. What’s more, future Android or Apple phones could have depth-sensing cameras that would allow you to capture the world around you as a 3D object.
All this means that Sketchfab appears better positioned than a 360-degree video-focused website like Littlstar or Vrideo to become the “YouTube of VR”. Afterall, YouTube itself is already hosting 360-degree videos and Facebook is too, meaning two of the Internet’s biggest websites are offering essentially the same features as these video-focused startups. Sketchfab, however, is offering something new and different. If everyone becomes a creator of 3D objects the same way practically everyone started capturing video, Sketchfab appears better positioned than anyone to become a service people need to share those creations with the world.
We’ll be keeping a close eye on Sketchfab and looking for signs of broader adoption. Stay tuned.