Graphics Cards

GTC 2017, Part 1: NVIDIA Unveils Flagship Volta GPU, Project Holodeck VR Platform, and More

18 May, 2017 By: Alex Herrera

The annual event showcases technologies poised to extend the GPU’s reach, with the potential to disrupt CAD workflows.


 

Evolutionary Extensions for GPUs: VR/AR and Virtualization

It’s no secret that virtual and augmented reality (VR and AR) technologies are back in the limelight. Donning a stereoscopic Oculus Rift or HTC Vive head-mounted display, or even smartphone goggles, has become a more common, accessible way to view an immersive computer-generated environment.

But while they represent a well-understood extension to traditional, interactive 3D graphics, VR and AR applications and technologies are far from perfected. Current VR adopters in spaces like CAD and AEC are still seeking the ability to collaborate effectively in that VR environment. For those professional purposes, collaboration requires improved realism, with respect not just to visual response but audio response and haptic feedback as well. And it means not just poking around a virtual world on your own, but bringing your team in to share that world with you.

NVIDIA has recognized this need, and continues to seed developers with new generations of its VRWorks toolkits, designed to ease implementation and improve experiences. And beyond the ecosystem, the company is working on its own applications to function — at the very least — as demonstration vehicles to spur further innovation. Toward that end, NVIDIA announced and demonstrated an evolved VR platform it calls Project Holodeck. Promised for September of 2017 (in some form), Project Holodeck incarnates the holy grail of immersive VR (using the familiar name coined by the television series Star Trek). Collaborators in widely dispersed physical locations can interact with a virtual model and also with each other, to review designs and test for optimal ergonomic form and function.


Swedish car manufacturer Koenigsegg is already exploring the collaborative possibilities of Project Holodeck. Image courtesy of NVIDIA.

The same values apply for AR. Opportunities to harness AR technology abound, extending well beyond entertainment applications such as Pokémon GO and deep into design, manufacturing, and AEC. Those opportunities haven’t been lost on Autodesk, for one; the company is aggressively pursuing ways to exploit AR for collaboration and pre-visualization to enhance building information modeling (BIM) workflows. For example, someone remodeling an existing foyer with the addition of a CAD-modeled staircase might rely on measuring and masking tapes to properly visualize the integration of the virtual and the physical. AR-enabled visualization could make those tools unnecessary by instantly blending the synthetic staircase in the photographed scene.


AR offers a lot more than just Pokémon GO. Image courtesy of NVIDIA.

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About the Author: Alex Herrera

Alex Herrera

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