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6 Main Challenges of Interactive 3D (And How Your Company Can Solve Them)

By PureWeb12.31.19
6 main challenges of real-time 3D (and how your company can solve them)

The internet has made industries like e-learning, e-commerce, distributed teams, and remote working possible. But now that online work and play has become business as usual, companies are looking for ways to make remote experiences feel more immediate through interactive, three-dimensional experiences.

Streaming interactive 3D experiences are far from a pipe dream. E-commerce companies can use them to provide immersive, photorealistic product demos and configurators. Corporate training teams can use them to deliver exceptional practice opportunities for workers in high-risk industries. Manufacturers can use them to collaborate on 3D models and applications. The list goes on.

That said, deploying these 3D applications can be tricky. Everything from rendering to configuration to integration with other systems can be a nightmare for brands trying to create a dream experience. Fortunately, a fully-managed service provider can help.

1. Sharing real-time 3D experiences to any device

VR gets a lot of publicity when it comes to interactive 3D experiences, but it’s not so easy for enterprises to use.

Let’s start with the bottom line, an important consideration for any company. Deploying a VR experience is cost prohibitive for most companies. Starting costs are in the tens of thousands, and costs increase based on the complexity of the project and industry. A manufacturing VR project can cost upwards of $11,000, an aviation project more than $18,000, and an energy project north of $24,000.

VR projects are often touted as a way to reduce transportation and accommodation costs for employees. Instead of flying trainees out to a dedicated training site, they can bring the dedicated training site to them using headsets. That said, there’s a tendency to overestimate this technology’s mobility.

Virtual reality simulators are housed in dedicated worksites, meaning employees still don’t have the flexibility of accessing high quality, 3D training experiences from their mobile devices and laptop. With a global mobile population of 4 billion unique users, this is a huge missed opportunity.

Plus, VR headsets come with long-term maintenance and repair costs as well as the added issue of VR sickness. Presently, anywhere from 40 to 70 percent of VR users feel motion sickness while specific applications can take instances of illness to 100 percent. 

Related Read: Does photo-real 3D for business need VR or real-time mobile access?

On the other hand, cloud-streaming of interactive 3D experiences allows enterprises to break through this limitation. Traditional methods of sharing 3D models, like WebGL, struggle to preserve the high fidelity graphics desired by automotive brands, manufacturers, home builders, architects, and more.

PureWeb’s publishing platform allows for widespread distribution of high quality interactive 3D applications to any device. This is possible by rendering the source files in the cloud and only streaming the rendered images and real-time interactions.

2. Performance issues hindering global deployment

Today, WebGL is one of the most well-known tools for creating interactive 3D experiences. It’s been accepted by the major web browsers and offers a huge Javascript library for 3D content creators to use.

WebGL is a standard deployment tool for sharing simple, low-fi 3D models online, but it doesn’t bring the photo-realistic renderings and high-end performance required by enterprises for use cases, including 3D product configurators, virtual show homes and interactive training simulators.

With WebGL, the local GPU (the end user’s GPU) renders 3D models. If the viewer doesn’t have a powerful GPU - and the average, non-gaming consumer doesn’t - they would view a low quality version of what’s supposed to be a highly realistic, immersive 3D experience. For brands investing top dollar into a cutting-edge experience, this isn’t an option.

On the other hand, deployment through cloud streaming means that the cloud server renders the 3D model and only the 3D image is transferred to the user. This means that both the person with a top-of-the-line GPU and the person with an average smartphone interact with the same high-quality application, allowing brands to deliver a cohesive experience.

3. Offering a scalable, globally consistent experience

Streaming through the cloud alone is not enough. Enterprises also need a fully-managed cloud streaming provider using the right web services to ensure the full experience stays online.

When Chevrolet unveiled its mid-engine Corvette, it also launched a 2020 Chevy Corvette 3D Visualizer that customers could use to put together their dream car. As expected, excited car enthusiasts raced to the site, effectively crashing it. For some time, eager fans could only access a lower fidelity, 2D version of the configurator.

Cloud streaming gives enterprises reach, but it also means that if the project’s reach goes further than expected, enterprises must be able to quickly ramp up their cloud computing service.

When working with a fully-managed interactive streaming provider like PureWeb, enterprises only focus on creating the actual 3D experience while their provider manages the relationship with cloud companies. PureWeb specifically designed its cloud computing platform for efficiency.

Read next: Why PureWeb is the most powerful streaming platform for real-time 3D

This means that our system can withstand increases in traffic without compromising the quality of graphics, allowing enterprises to save money or unnecessary additions to their cloud computing costs.

4. Developing accurate streaming cost projections and staying under budget

Streaming through the cloud is one of the most cost-effective ways to deploy an interactive 3D experience. According to Forrester, building your own data center can cost about $200 per square foot, and that’s not including the ongoing costs of maintenance and upgrades.

That said, just because cloud streaming is cost effective, doesn’t mean there aren’t costs to be managed. Deploying a global interactive 3D experience without experts on hand increases your chances of breaking the bank on cloud computing costs. For instance, with an inefficient system you may upgrade your cloud usage unnecessarily when usage spikes.

With the right platform, you get a system designed to help you scale up and down effectively. For example, the PureWeb platform is designed to manage cloud computing costs efficiently as usage scales up, without compromising on quality. Moreover, a full service provider brings the experience required to help you translate your requirements to an accurate cost projection.

5. Aligning real-time 3D with real business outcomes and ROI

Proving ROI can be a head scratcher, particularly when you’re introducing a new piece of technology to your organization. Nevertheless, if you want the continued support of other stakeholders, you need to demonstrate the value of your interactive 3D projects, whether they’re for e-commerce marketing, training, manufacturing and more.

The trick is to articulate a clear objective before embarking on your immersive 3D experience. If you’re using interactive 3D for training, is the goal to eliminate travel and accommodation costs entirely or by a certain percent? If the project is for marketing purposes, which metrics are you measuring? Is it the number of qualified leads generated or the number of hard sales and increase in purchase value generated? And once you’ve picked the metric, what percentage increase makes the project worthwhile? A ten percent increase? Twenty? 

If you’re clear about your objectives, everyone can get on the same page about expectations.

6. Managing the inherent complexity of an interactive 3D project

Building and managing an enterprise-level cloud publishing platform is not as simple as firing up a few servers in the cloud. But there’s this persistent myth that streaming a 3D application is simple. This is often because people confuse small-scale projects with limited data models with larger enterprise-level projects for even the most graphic-intensive applications.

For example, many 3D content creators use Unreal Engine’s Pixel Streaming feature as a way to share their projects. Instead of rendering 3D images on the end user’s device, Unreal’s pixel streaming protocol renders files at the server level and then transfers the images. This is great for sharing files with a small number of users, but not designed for large-scale enterprise sharing. Unreal itself cautions users about shipping projects using pixel streaming.

In addition, interactive 3D projects rarely exist in isolation. For example, an immersive 3D training module needs to be incorporated into a company’s learning management system (LMS). A product configurator needs to be incorporated into a brand’s e-commerce platform. Without the in-house talent required to integrate these pieces seamlessly, the entire experience risks become siloed or fragmented.

On the other hand, a fully-managed service provider has experts who can take a look at your current technology solutions’ APIs and review your existing workflows to determine how to best integrate a new online 3D experience with your systems.

A fully managed solution reduces the complexity of real-time 3D

Like any project worth implementing, an interactive 3D project has its challenges. But with the right team, you can deploy a seamless, immersive experience to any device, anywhere in the world.

Want to learn how our publishing platform can support your project? Book a demo with a member of the PureWeb team.