Impacts of OpenUSD across AEC

OpenUSD solutions are set to transform the AEC industry, but what does that mean for firms’ adoption? asks Jolyon Vernon, Creative’s Head of Enterprise Architecture.

Data interoperability and breaking down data silos are long-standing challenges in the AEC sector to unlock wider collaboration and innovation. Part of tackling this, we’ve seen USD (Universal Scene Description) have a significant impact over the last 3-4 years, expanding far beyond its conception by Pixar for 3D animation.

Our client conversations reveal a mix of approaches to embracing USD principles, features and integrations. While some have been early adopters of Nvidia Omniverse, others are starting their journey to understand how USD will add business value.

While OpenUSD has been around for some time, the relatively new Alliance for OpenUSD brings together some of the biggest names in 3D visualisation (Pixar, Nvidia, Adobe, Autodesk, Apple) to promote the standardisation and interoperability of the whole 3D ecosystem. With greater focus on developing OpenUSD to drive industry wide innovation, where do AEC firms stand?

Firstly, what is OpenUSD trying to achieve? Its core aim is to provide a more accessible, scalable and collaborative framework for digital project management and execution. In AEC, this will drive wider adoption of USD’s powerful features and help standardise 3D modelling and data exchange practices. Tailored AEC-specific features will accelerate introduction through open community forums, focused on BIM integration, simulation capabilities and large-scale project data handling. These developments could greatly help sustainable building design by allowing complex, real-world simulations.

AEC firms are always looking for cost effective, performant solutions to deliver business value. Through this open framework, the ability to innovate with cost in mind will help reduce the reliance on proprietary software and lower the barriers for entry, enabling smaller firms to leverage powerful tooling to compete for projects.

As we move through 2024 and beyond, OpenUSD is expected to play a critical role in advancing digital transformation within the AEC industry. However, with any new technology or innovation there needs to be a wider strategy aligned to how the business will evolve and bring value to its stakeholders.

Consideration of USD or Omniverse more specifically must start with understanding business priorities. It’s essential to ensure IT foundations are in place to allow the business to innovate and leverage the right tools to gain market share. Flexible, scalable solutions combining global access to toolsets with the right performance are a complex mix that needs to be considered alongside wider business strategy.

OpenUSD promises technological advancements to empower the AEC industry to tackle challenges with greater flexibility, efficiency and collaboration. The job of the IT function is to ensure they remain aligned and have in place the platforms to flex, scale and innovate arm-in-arm with the business.