October 7, 2020
In his keynote address at Nvidia’s GPU Technology Conference, chief executive Jensen Huang demonstrated Omniverse, a virtual environment described as a “metaverse” for engineers, announcing an open beta. With Omniverse — which was inspired by the sci-fi concept of the metaverse — engineers can collaborate on and simulate designs in a photoreal 3D virtual environment. Nvidia has been providing early access to Omniverse for 18 months; it will be available for download this fall.
VentureBeat reports that Omniverse, which uses Nvidia’s RTX 3D simulation technology, not only enables simulation in a virtual space but “engineers on remote teams will be able to work alongside architects, 3D animators … on 3D buildings simultaneously, as if they were jointly editing a Google Doc.”
“You’ll be able to collaborate anywhere in the world in this virtual environment,” said Nvidia media and entertainment general manager Richard Kerris. “And your workflow is key, whether you’re an end user or developer.” During the early access period, architectural design firm Foster + Partners and VFX facility ILM were among the 40 companies and 400 individual creators testing Omniverse.
The cloud-based Omniverse “runs in the datacenter using servers based on chips from Nvidia, such as the [newly introduced] Nvidia Quadro RTX A6000 chips.” For Huang, Omniverse is the first step towards the Star Trek Holodeck concept. “Future worlds will be photorealistic, obey the laws of physics or not, and [be] inhabited by human avatars and AI beings,” he said, noting that “games like ‘Fortnite’ or ‘Minecraft’ or ‘Roblox’ are like the early versions of the metaverse.”
Omniverse is based on Pixar’s Universal Scene Description, the “leading format for universal interchange between 3D applications,” and also uses Nvidia’s “real-time photorealistic rendering, physics, materials, and interactive workflows between industry-leading 3D software products.”
“With the entire community starting to move toward this open platform [USD] for exchanging 3D information, including the objects, scenes, materials, and everything else, it was the best place for us to start,” said Kerris. Omniverse is supported by Adobe, Autodesk, Bentley Systems, Robert McNeel & Associates, and SideFX among other software vendors, and Blender is adding USD capabilities. Omniverse Connectors are plugins that connect third party tools to the platform.
With regard to latency, Kerris said that, “the only information that has to be transmitted across the Internet to the other users are the parts of a project that are being changed … making the real-time updating of the Omniverse more efficient.” “A decent connection to the cloud gives you the real-time performance that you’ll need to have that kind of workflow feel like you’re in the same room with one another person, even if you are in different parts of the world,” he said.
To watch the announcement of Omniverse’s open beta, click here.