The Metaverse is the 3D evolution of the Internet

Metaverse is an evolution of the Internet and the World Wide Web – that’s an interesting way of putting it. It is the way Jeff Kember Director, Omniverse Technologies at NVIDIAexplains it, it makes a lot of sense.

“It’s a Web embodied in 3D, where we can connect within virtual worlds that feel as rich and complex to us 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 Metaverse concept, how it evolved, and NVIDIA Omniverse.

Traditional 3D worlds were for games and entertainment, each separate and non-interoperable. But with the confluence of technologies enabling real-time ray tracing, GPU-accelerated data center-scale computing, real-time physics simulation, artificial intelligence, and open source 3D standards (Universal Scene Description): we are able to build virtual worlds for industrial applications and Artificial Intelligence Use Cases and enable portability and interoperability between these worlds.

What is 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 that we will see as an evolution of the web as we know it today. An essential thing for all these worlds is that they have a common basis for the way they are presented, experienced and, above all, 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 linked from most industry leading 3D software products; can be extended and applications can be built on this platform using a built-in SDK called Kit.

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How does NVIDIA contribute to the metaverse?

We have been working since the inception of NVIDIA to create technologies that enable the simulation of virtual worlds: rendering, physics, artificial intelligence, as well as the foundations of computation. These are all basic requirements for building the Metaverse.

Simulating high-fidelity virtual worlds is an incredibly challenging problem. It’s actually an infinite problem. We can always employ more computing power to make our virtual worlds bigger, more complex, and richer.

But there’s more to it than that.

There are two major technology challenges NVIDIA is addressing:

  • Making it easier for everyone to participate in the creation of high-fidelity virtual worlds
  • Efficiently scale true-to-life simulation of virtual worlds to computers in the data center and cloud

The 2D web is successful because virtually anyone can create a web page and participate in building the ever-expanding web. 3D content for virtual worlds is much more difficult to create – it requires great experience, so only a small group of elite games and 3D artists can do it. With a major investment in Universal Scene Description, advanced processing, simulation, computer vision, and artificial intelligence, we at NVIDIA are building the tools for more people to participate in the creation of high-fidelity virtual worlds.

The other big challenge is simulating large complex worlds. Today, virtually all game engines are limited to running one computer, be it game console, PC, mobile… If you want to simulate a bigger world with higher fidelity, you can’t throw multiple computers at it to make it faster.

We recently introduced NVIDIA OVX, a computer system purpose-built for businesses to build and manage digital twins at scale. Developing and operating factory-scale, city-scale, and planetary-scale digital twin simulations require new computing architecture software and hardware that can operate multiple autonomous systems at precise time, in the same space- time and constantly receive and process live streaming data from the physical counterpart.

Omniverse is a platform that connects existing workflows and existing tools. The tools you use don’t have to change with Omniverse, they are enhanced and extended by the platform.

We are actively promoting USD support across all developer ecosystems: game development, content design and creation, AEC, manufacturing/industry, even robotics, and we are seeing support swarm. We work with leading software developers to build integrations with Omniverse, including Adobe, Autodesk, Esri, Graphisoft, Epic Games, Bentley and others.

Omniverse is already being used across industries by both DNEG and Sony Pictures Animation to create accelerated USD media and entertainment workflows; from Foster + Partners or KPF to take architectural design to the next level; by Ericsson to create a digital twin of a city to optimize 5G deployment; by the BMW Group for building the factories of the future; or by Lockheed Martin to create simulation environments to better predict the spread of wildfires.

NVIDIA metaverse interview
NVIDIA Omniverse — BMW AI Factory of the future. Image courtesy of NVIDIA

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 the physical and virtual worlds. Extended reality experiences are just one example of a virtual world experience, but that’s not the whole scope.

We now have the technology to create lifelike 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, nearly every industry will benefit from virtual worlds participating in and hosting them. Creators will make more things for virtual worlds than they do in the physical world, companies will build countless digital twins of products, environments and spaces, from object scale to planetary scale.

Simulation offers huge opportunities for all companies as simulating designs virtually thousands of times before producing in reality will save costs and waste and increase operational efficiency and accuracy. Omniverse is a level of technology focused on connecting and building physically accurate virtual worlds or “digital twins” to help solve the world’s toughest engineering, energy, and scientific problems.

How will the metaverse solve some of our real-world problems?

The next era of industries and artificial intelligence will be made possible by the metaverse, these interoperable virtual worlds.

For one thing, 3D workflows are now essential for every industry. All things designed and built by humans are usually first built in a virtual world. Bicycles, cars, bridges, factories are all designed with various CAD tools before being built in the physical world.

Physically accurate and extremely fast simulation in a virtual world is the key to designing the best and most efficient products. We can rapidly test many iterations of a design in the virtual world at a fraction of the cost of doing them in the real world.

Once the digital version of the product is completed, it is transformed into its physical counterpart. In most cases today, that’s the end of the road for the digital version.

But if we connect the two manifestations, digital and real, they can evolve with each other. We can capture data from the real world through sensors and IoT devices and feed it into the digital model, keeping the twins in sync.

Applying accurate physics simulation to the digital twin gives us incredible superpowers. We can teleport to any part of the digital twin just like in a video game and inspect every aspect of it reflected from the real world.

We can also run simulations to predict the near future or test many possible futures to choose the most optimal one.

There will be a larger market, a larger industry with more designers and makers building digital things in virtual worlds than there will be in the physical world. Today, most designers focus on the cars, buildings, clothing, and shoes of the physical world. All of these things will be many, many times bigger in virtual worlds – this is the next evolution of the web.

Just as the web has done, virtual worlds will give birth to many new economies, bigger than our current physical economy. The economy in the metaverse will be many times larger than that of the physical world. Digital currencies will be used in these virtual worlds where we own property, homes, cars, art, clothing and more.