It's easy to forget how essential Clip Art felt in the 1990s. Microsoft's library of 140,000 cartoon doodles of every imaginable style was the emoji of their day, a means to express oneself graphically in a brochure or presentation in an era when easy drawing apps just didn't exist. Which is why it's so easy to see the parallels between Clip Art and Google's new Poly platform.
Poly is a library of thousands of open-source 3D objects commissioned by Google–along with anything users would like to upload themselves, which can be designated Creative Commons shareable, or rights-protected–for AR and VR developers and designers to tap. Poly makes it easy to download assets necessary to build apps in this very experimental new space, lowering the cost and risk for developers to get into these burgeoning platforms. This approach is on trend: Microsoft recently invested big money in a live-action Mixed Reality Capture Studio specifically built to film actors and objects in 3D. But Google is doing something slightly different–building a library of models that speed up and ease the process of using a new digital medium, much like Clip Art made it possible for new computer users to make documents in Word.
Poly sources objects that are uploaded from the Google Blocks object builder, or the painting tool Tilt Brush. It can be accessed through a desktop web browser, for anyone programming on a Mac or PC. But Poly is fully functional in VR, too, allowing you to download assets directly into Tilt Brush or Blocks to incorporate into a scene, or even riff on and re-upload to the service with auto-attribution.