We’ve been attending FOSS4G NA since the first year Cesium was developed, and we love it. It’s the conference where we meet our users face-to-face, present the latest Cesium developments, and learn about all the great advances in the field.

Every year brings a different emphasis to the sessions, reflecting what’s happening in the world of geospatial software. This year, we’re especially looking forward to the focus on 3D. While there isn’t a track specifically dedicated to 3D, 3D and related issues will be everywhere at the conference. A number of talks will look specifically at 3D projects; others will cover supporting technologies for 3D. Here’s some of the ones we’re most looking forward to.

First and foremost, 3D Tiles: Beyond 2D Tiling will cover the 3D Tiles open specification. 3D Tiles allow developers to stream massive heterogeneous 3D geospatial datasets, and we expect them to become an integral tool for many 3D engines and conversion tools. Some of the talks will explore using 3D Tiles in various applications, including for OpenStreetMap and in city modeling.

A number of sessions look at various other 3D solutions. There’s a tutorial on building 3D maps using TerriaJS, which is built on Cesium. One talk goes over the latest of WhirlyGlobe-Maply’s toolkit for mobile; another examines Mapzen’s efforts to better represent streets using vector tiles and the Tangram WebGL-based 3D map rendering library. There’s both a session and a tutorial focusing on GRASS GIS and how it can process LIDAR data. Migrating from Google Earth to Cesium will get into the details of transitioning from Google’s proprietary platform to Cesium’s open source library.

Four speakers will highlight apps they’ve built on Cesium, which we’ve previously showcased on our website: the Hiroshima Archive, RikiTraki, Australia’s National Map, and NASA’s Data Curtains from Space. Others will look at 3D in their use cases, such as bringing geospatial technology to the City of Raleigh.

Some talks get into the hardware of creating 3D visualizations, from setting up sensors to deploying on virtual reality glasses, and even to developing tangible interfaces.

The growing prevalence of 3D at FOSS4G NA 2016 is an indication of how it’s maturing as a technology and how important it is becoming to users. With so many creative people working in this space, we expect to learn about major leaps forward in 3D at this conference and to see even more in future years.