Metaverse is an evolution of the Internet and World Wide Web – that’s an interesting way of putting it. And the way Jeff Kember Director, Omniverse Technologies at NVIDIAexplains it, makes a lot of sense.
“It’s a 3D embodied Web, where we can connect inside virtual worlds that look and feel to us as rich and complex as the real world. We can play, socialize, work and create within these interoperable worlds despite being separated by great distances in the real world.”
In this interview, Kember talks about the concept of the Metaverse, how it has evolved, and the NVIDIA Omniverse.
Traditional 3D worlds were for gaming and entertainment, each of them separate and non-interoperable. But with the confluence of lighting technologies of real-time ray tracing, GPU accelerated data center scale computing, real-time physics simulation, AI, and open source 3D standards (Universal Scene Description) — we are able to build virtual worlds for industrial and AI use cases, and enable portability and interoperability between these worlds.
What is the NVIDIA Omniverse? How is it different from the metaverse?
We believe the term Metaverse is a broad description of the many types of virtual worlds we will see as an evolution of the web as we know it today. One thing that is essential for all of these worlds is them to have a common foundation for how they are presented, experienced and most importantly, connected.
Omniverse is a platform that connects virtual worlds and is built on USD (Universal Scene Description) which can be thought of as the HTML of 3D. Omniverse can be connected to from most of the industry-leading 3D software products; it can be extended, and applications can be built on this platform using an integrated SDK called Kit.
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How is NVIDIA contributing to the metaverse?
We have been working since the inception of NVIDIA to build technologies that enable the simulation of virtual worlds: rendering, physics, AI, as well as the computing foundation. These are all core requirements to build the Metaverse.
Simulating high-fidelity virtual worlds is an incredibly challenging problem. It’s actually an infinite problem. We can always throw more computing power at making our virtual worlds bigger, more complex and richer.
But there’s more to it than just that.
There are two major technology challenges NVIDIA is tackling:
- Making it easy for everyone to participate in the creation of high-fidelity virtual worlds
- Scaling true to reality simulation of virtual worlds efficiencies to computers in the data center and the cloud
The 2D web is successful because virtually anyone can make a web page and participate in the construction of the ever-expanding web. 3D content for virtual worlds is much harder to create — it requires great expertise, so only a small group of elite game and 3D artists can do this. With a major investment in Universal Scene Description, advanced computing, simulation, computer vision and AI, we at NVIDIA are building the tools to enable greater numbers of people to participate in building high-fidelity virtual worlds.
The other major challenge is simulating large complex worlds. Today, virtually all game engines are limited to running one computer – be it gaming console, PC, mobile device… If you want to simulate a larger world with more fidelity, you can’t throw more computers at it to make it faster.
Recently, we introduced NVIDIA OVX, a computing system purpose-built for enterprises to build and operate large-scale digital twins. Developing and operating factory-scale, city-scale, and planetary-scale digital twin simulations require a new computing architecture software and hardware that can operate multiple autonomous systems at precise time, in the same space-time, and constantly be receiving and processing live -streamed data from the physical counterpart.
Omniverse is a platform that connects existing workflows and existing tools. The tools that you use don’t have to change with Omniverse, they get enhanced and extended by the platform.
We are actively evangelizing USD support across all developer ecosystems – game development, design and content creation, AEC, manufacturing/industrial, even robotics, and are seeing a swarm of support. We are working with leading software developers to build integrations to Omniverse, including Adobe, Autodesk, Esri, Graphisoft, Epic Games, Bentley, and more.
Omniverse is already being used across industries — whether by DNEG or Sony Pictures Animation to build accelerated USD media & entertainment workflows; by Foster + Partners or KPF to bring architectural design to the next level; by Ericsson to create a digital twin of a city for 5G deployment optimization; by BMW Group for building factories of the future; or by Lockheed Martin to build simulation environments to better predict wildfire spread.
How far have we traveled in terms of technology to make the metaverse a reality?
Omniverse and virtual worlds are already here.
The metaverse is the 3D evolution of the Internet — the extension of physical and virtual worlds. Extended reality experiences are just one example of a virtual world experience, but it is not the entire scope.
We now have the technology to create true-to-reality digital twins of the physical world and this new evolution of the web will be much larger than the physical world because like the web, almost every industry will benefit from participating and hosting virtual worlds. Creators will make more things for virtual worlds than they do in the physical world, enterprises will build countless digital twins of products, environments and spaces — from object scale to planetary scale.
Simulation brings enormous opportunity for all enterprises as simulating projects thousands of times virtually before producing in reality will save on cost and waste, and increase operational efficiency and accuracy. Omniverse is a technology layer focused on connecting and building physically accurate virtual worlds or “digital twins” to help solve the world’s hardest engineering, energy and science problems.
How will the metaverse solve some of our real-world problems?
The next era of industries and AI will be enabled by the metaverse — these interoperable virtual worlds.
For one, 3D workflows are now essential to every industry. All things that are designed and built by humans are typically first built in a virtual world. Bicycles, cars, bridges, factories are all designed with various CAD tools, before they are built in the physical world.
Physically accurate and extremely fast simulation in a virtual world is key to designing the best and most efficient products. We can quickly test many iterations of a design in the virtual world at a fraction of the cost of what it would take to build them in the real world.
Once the digital version of the product is complete, it’s transformed into its physical counterpart. In most cases today, that’s the end of the road for the digital version.
But, if we link the two manifestations — digital and real — they can evolve with each other. We can capture data from the real world through IoT sensors and devices and feed it into the digital model, keeping the “twins” in sync.
Applying accurate physical simulation to the digital twin gives us incredible superpowers. We can teleport to any part of the digital twin just like we can in a video game, and inspect any aspect of it reflected from the real world.
We can also run simulations to predict the near future, or test many possible futures for us to pick the most optimal one.
There will be a larger market, larger industry with more designers and creators building digital things in virtual worlds than there will be in the physical world. Today, most designers focus on physical world cars, buildings, clothing and shoes. All of those things will be many, many times larger in virtual worlds — this is the next evolution of the web.
Just like the web did, virtual worlds will spark many new, larger than our current physical economy. The economy in the metaverse will be many times larger than those in the physical world. Digital currencies will be used in these virtual worlds where we own property, homes, cars, art, clothing, and more.