Microsoft have announced the acquisition of Sweden based software Simplygon. The purchase will allow Microsoft access to Simplygon’s 3D data optimization solutions and could prove a useful asset to the companies 3D printing ambitions.

Optimizing the size of large 3D files is important for Microsoft as it influences the rate at which 3D technology will be adopted by the mass market. This is something Google are also keen to address as they have recently released their own 3D data optimization tool in the form of Draco.

Simplygon plus Microsoft = heart. Image via Simplygon.

The new Simplygon plus Microsoft = heart equation. Image via Simplygon.

Simplygon is used by over 80% of top video games studios. Clients include Nintendo, Bethesda, Sony, Ubisoft and Konami. Microsoft will use the optimization service as part of the Windows 10 Creator Update, the release includes Paint 3D and Remix 3D.

Remix 3D is Microsoft’s online community for 3D models, the app is still in preview mode but will be released the 400 million Windows 10 users later this year. Microsoft are also a founding member of the the 3MF consortium, a group including Autodesk, Shapeways. SLM Solutions, HP and Dassault Systèmes. The 3MF consortium plan to release their 3D printing file format (.3mf) as a replacement for .stl and .obj. The acquisition of Simplygon may find its way into Microsoft’s 3D printing ambitions, but this remains to be seen.

Prior to the news, Simplygon created a free software service for 3D optimization called Cloud in 2014 and Microsoft will be incorporating this into the Creator update.

Simplygon have played a significant role in the development of VR video games, with Playstation VR and Oculus as customers. The optimization tool will also have application for Microsoft’s HoloLens mixed reality device.

The Simplygon development pipeline. Image via Simplygon.

The development pipeline. Image via Simplygon.

How it works

Simplygon’s optimization tool applies triangle reduction to a CAD file. This is done automatically and swaps the original geometries with the optimized version. By, “dramatically reducing the triangle count, the geometric transformation and rasterization bottlenecks are removed from the final visualization, thereby opening up for other optimization opportunities.” This reduces the size of the files meaning they can be loaded quickly yet maintain a good level of detail (lod).

In a blog post announcing the acquisition, Microsoft briefly explained their intentions with this technology,

Simplygon’s technology and talent will strengthen our position in 3D creation, making it easier to capture, create and share in 3D. It builds on and extends our aspirations to empower a new wave of creativity with the Windows 10 Creators Update, Paint 3D and our online creator community at Remix3D.com.

Featured image shows the process for polygon reduction. Image via Simplygon.

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