Threedium’s Ultimate Guide to 3D/AR/XR Terms: A 3D Glossary
Are you a shop owner looking to expand your online business? Or perhaps a designer interested in using 3D and AR to create impactful and immersive marketing campaigns. Maybe you know a thing or two about 3D banner ads and augmented reality but don’t know your GLB from your gITF. Or maybe you’re a complete newbie who’s just starting to dip your toe into the exciting world of 3D. Whatever your situation, this glossary is for you.
3D and AR technology might be a fairly new concept, but the advantages it can offer your business have been well established. The problem is, a lot of the time it can seem as though the world of 3D has a language all its own, and to the uninitiated, this can often sound like gibberish.
This is where we come in. Threedium’s Ultimate Guide to 3D/AR/XR terms aims to serve as a holistic glossary, offering simple, straightforward definitions of terms that are useful to anyone who’d like to learn a little more about 3D technology, and how it can be used to elevate your business. In other words, we help you speak our language.
Our 3D glossary includes explanations for widely used terminology that you are likely to come across as you begin exploring your 3D journey. We hope you find this page helpful when learning or improving your 3D knowledge, and you can bookmark it and use it as a reference each time you encounter a term you’re unfamiliar with.
3D Banner Ads - Ads that are 3D model-based rather than image-based and text-based and are a popular form of online advertising. Users are able to see the product in 3D from all the angles, zoom in and out, customize it and view the product in their environment through augmented reality (AR). The purpose of a 3D banner advertising is to promote a brand and/or to get visitors from the host website to go to the advertiser's website.
3D Product Viewer - A 3D Product Viewer is a solution which allows your clients to see your product in 3D from all the angles, zoom in and out with rich rendering.
3D Product Configurator - A 3D configurator is a solution which allows your clients to interact with the product in 3D and view it from any angle, customise it in real-time and clearly see the details of the materials, the textures and the craftsmanship.
3D Modeling - 3D modeling is the process of developing a mathematical coordinate-based representation of any surface of an object (inanimate or living) in three dimensions via specialized software. The product is called a 3D model. Someone who works with 3D models may be referred to as a 3D artist or a 3D modeler. A 3D Model can also be displayed as a two-dimensional image through a process called 3D rendering or used in a computer simulation of physical phenomena.
Augmented Reality (AR) - Technology that uses software to superimpose various forms of digital content – such as videos, photos, links, 3D models, and others – in the real environment, predefined images or object targets. The realistic augmentation is achieved by making use of the device camera and its sensors. AR can be defined as a system that fulfils three basic features: a combination of real and virtual worlds, real-time interaction, and accurate 3D registration of virtual and real objects.
Fbx - FBX is a popular 3D file format that was originally developed by Kaydara for MotionBuilder, acquired by Autodesk Inc in 2006. It is now one of the main 3D exchange formats as used by many 3D tools.
GLB - GLB is the binary file format representation of 3D models saved in the GL Transmission Format (glTF). Information about 3D models such as node hierarchy, cameras, materials, animations and meshes in binary format. This binary format stores the glTF asset (JSON, . bin and images) in a binary blob.
gITF - is a royalty-free specification for the efficient transmission and loading of 3D scenes and models by applications. glTF minimizes both the size of 3D assets and the runtime processing needed to unpack and use those assets. glTF defines an extensible, common publishing format for 3D content tools and services that streamlines authoring workflows and enables interoperable use of content across the industry.
Interactive 3D model - An interactive 3D model is when an object is represented in a 3-dimensional shape and lets you view it a high rendered quality. A user can interact with it, zoom in/out and rotate it.
Mapping - Texture mapping is a method for defining high-frequency detail, surface texture, or colour information on a computer-generated graphic or 3D model.
Obj - The OBJ file format is a simple data-format that represents 3D geometry alone — namely, the position of each vertex, the UV position of each texture coordinate vertex, vertex normals, and the faces that make each polygon defined as a list of vertices, and texture vertices.
Polygon - In 3D computer graphics, polygonal modeling is an approach for modeling objects by representing or approximating their surfaces using polygon meshes. Polygonal modeling is well suited to scanline rendering and is therefore the method of choice for real-time computer graphics.
Scene Recognition - Object recognition is used to recognize and track larger structures that go beyond table-sized objects. The name Scene Recognition reflects this in particular. The feature is ideal for augmented reality experiences using rooms, building facades, as well as squares and courtyards as targets.
Textures - An OpenGL object that contains one or more images, all of which are stored in the same image format.
Tracking - The AR experience should “understand and follow” where a specific object is placed in the real-world to anchor content to it. This process is commonly referred to as tracking. Tracking in ideal cases happens in real-time so that the object is followed very accurately. There are many trackers available today, ranging from trackers that follow a face, hands, fingers, images, or generic object. All of them are based on a reference that is later understood by the Unlimited 3D software.
Web AR - Utilising web-based Augmented Reality technology means that you can offer Virtual Try-on experiences within your existing website and product pages to give customers the opportunity to get an accurate sense of the look, feel and size of your products.
WebGL - WebGL is a cross-platform, royalty-free web standard for a low-level 3D graphics API based on OpenGL ES, exposed to ECMAScript via the HTML5 Canvas element. Developers familiar with OpenGL ES 2.0 will recognize WebGL as a Shader-based API using GLSL, with constructs that are semantically similar to those of the underlying OpenGL ES API. WebGL brings plugin-free 3D to the web, implemented right into the browser. Major browser vendors Apple (Safari), Google (Chrome), Microsoft (Edge), and Mozilla (Firefox) are members of the WebGL Working Group.
Virtual Reality (VR) - Virtual reality (VR) is a simulated experience that can be similar to or completely different from the real world. Applications of virtual reality include entertainment (e.g. video games) and education (e.g. medical or military training). Other distinct types of VR-style technology include augmented reality and mixed reality, sometimes referred to as extended reality or XR.
XR (Extended Reality) - Extended Reality is an umbrella term that covers all computer-generated environments, either superimposed onto the physical world or creating immersive experiences for the user. XR includes AR, VR, MR, and any other emerging technologies of the same type.