“Web is the medium,” said Autodesk CTO Jeff Kowalski, who was very upbeat about the possibilities of the new tech for increasing work collaboration and creativity, and reducing delays through real-time rendering. Besides investing in OTOY, Autodesk’s interest is in providing 3D apps to their customers using cloud resources. The implications for agility — both for individuals and for enterprises — are freeing: a low-power home device can drive the centralized, high-power cloud machine, eliminating the need for a high-end workstation or provisioning of hardware assets to employees or contractors. Kowalski’s suggestion, in fact, was that such a move will allows users to downgrade their hardware, because it no longer has to match the needs of the software.
So what is needed for ORBX.js to work? Any HTML5 browser (Chrome, Safari, Firefox, IE10 or Opera) will do, but it needs to have WebGL technology to take advantage of the codec’s full decoding speed. Mozilla CTO Brendan Eich predicted that Apple will eventually come around to more fully accept WebGL. When asked if Apple, Google, or big streaming providers can do anything to stop the use of ORBX, Urbach said nothing short of getting rid of the browser would stop the tech from being used.
The central issues with streaming all of your computing are bandwidth and money. Video seemed to stream well on an iPhone over 4G, and with the adaptive streaming and superior compression of ORBX, Urbach projects a 25 percent bandwidth savings for, say, Netflix streaming. For that to happen, Netflix, Amazon and other providers have to adopt ORBX, something that the Mozilla-OTOY partnership is actively working on. They are hoping that their solution will be the one to put the format wars to rest, and allow consumers to collect the highest-definition content possible in a way that is format-agnostic. With respect to pricing, a ballpark figure suggested at the launch was $300 per year for OTOY’s cloud-rendering engine to take over one person’s computing needs. Pricing is still up in the air, but Urbach expects an AMI to launch later this year with the second generation of ORBX that will also include HDR encoding capabilities.
The videos below show streaming video and gaming through a browser using ORBX (via Mozilla).