What is the metaverse, and how does it work? The metaverse is a collection of interactive, immersive, and collaborative virtual 3D worlds.
The metaverse can be conceived of as a collection of universes, similar to how the real universe is made up of worlds that are connected in space.
Some components of the concept are reflected in massive online social games like Fortnite, the battle royale behemoth, and user-created virtual worlds like Minecraft and Roblox.
In the middle of the global COVID pandemic, video-conferencing technologies are another foreshadowing of what’s to come.
However, the idea outlined in Neal Stephenson’s famous novel “Snow Crash,” published in 1992, goes well beyond any single game or video-conferencing tool.
The metaverse will become a platform that is not tethered to any single app or any particular area – digital or real.
And, just as virtual environments will remain, so will the objects and identities of those traveling through them, allowing digital products and identities to migrate from one virtual world to the next, and even into our own, thanks to augmented reality.
Ultimately we’re talking about creating another reality, another world, that’s as rich as the real world.
These ideas are already being put to work with NVIDIA Omniverse, which, simply put, is a platform for connecting 3D worlds into a shared virtual universe.
Omniverse is in use across a growing number of industries for projects such as design collaboration and creating “digital twins,” simulations of real-world buildings and factories.
Develop Worlds Within the Metaverse
We can break it down into three big parts. The first is Omniverse Nucleus. It’s a database engine that connects people and allows 3D objects and scene descriptions to be exchanged.
Designers working on modeling, layout, shading, animation, lighting, special effects, or rendering can work together to build a scene once they’re connected.
The USD, or Universal Scene Description, interchange framework created by Pixar in 2012 is used by Omniverse Nucleus.
USD is a rich, universal language for describing, packaging, assembling, and manipulating 3D data that was released as open-source software in 2016. It is used by an increasing number of industries and applications.
USD, according to Lebardian and others, is to the nascent metaverse what HTML was to the web – a common language that can be utilized and improved to serve the metaverse.
Nucleus allows several people to connect and send and receive updates to their reality in the form of USD snippets.
The composition, rendering, and animation engine — the virtual world simulation — is the second half of Omniverse.
Omniverse is a platform built from the ground up to be physically based. Thanks to NVIDIA RTX graphics technologies, it is the full path traced, simulating how each ray of light bounces around a virtual world in real-time.
Omniverse simulates physics with NVIDIA PhysX. It simulates materials with NVIDIA MDL or material definition language.
NVIDIA AI is also completely integrated with Omniverse (which is key to advancing robotics, more on that later).
Omniverse is a cloud-native application that scales across multiple GPUs operate on any RTX platform, and broadcasts to any device remotely.
The third component is NVIDIA CloudXR, which consists of client and server software that allows users to a portal into and out of Omniverse by streaming extended reality material from OpenVR applications to Android and Windows devices.
You can teleport into Omniverse with virtual reality, and AIs can teleport out of Omniverse with augmented reality.
Industrial Light & Magic is putting Omniverse to the test to connect internal and external tool pipelines from several studios together. They can collaborate, render final shots in real-time, and build large virtual sets like holodecks with Omniverse.
Bentley Systems, a provider of infrastructure engineering software, is leveraging Omniverse to develop a set of apps for the platform. Bentley’s iTwin platform builds a 4D digital twin of an infrastructure asset to mimic its construction and then monitor and optimize its performance throughout its existence.
Humans & Robots Collaboration Using the Metaverse
These virtual worlds are perfect for robot training. The fact that the NVIDIA Omniverse follows the laws of physics is one of its most important aspects. Omniverse is capable of simulating particles and fluids, materials, and even machines down to their springs and cables.
A fundamental capability of robotics is the ability to simulate the natural world in a virtual environment.
It allows users to create a virtual world in which robots can train using AI brains that can learn from their real or virtual surroundings.
Roboticists can transfer these robots’ thoughts onto an NVIDIA Jetson and attach it to a real robot once their minds have been trained in the Omniverse.
Box movers, pick-and-place arms, forklifts, cars, trucks, and even buildings will be among the robots available.
A factory of the future will be a robot, controlling several robots inside and producing cars that are robots themselves.
Digital Twins by Metaverse & Omniverse
The NVIDIA Omniverse is a description of these shared worlds that humans and robots may connect to — and collaborate in — to improve their collaboration.
BMW Group is already putting this concept into practice. Every year, the company produces about 2 million vehicles. The corporation produces a car per minute in its most modern manufacturing. And each vehicle has its own personalization.
NVIDIA Omniverse is being used by BMW Group to develop a future factory, a flawless “digital twin.” It’s totally digitally developed and simulated in Omniverse from start to finish.
The Omniverse-enabled plant can communicate with enterprise resource planning systems to simulate throughput. It is capable of simulating new industrial layouts. It can even serve as a dashboard for production workers who can use it to uplink into robots and teleoperate them.
The virtual factory’s AI and software are the same as those that will power the physical one. To put it another way, the virtual and real factories, as well as their robots, will be in a loop. They’re identical twins.
No More Science Fiction
The “plumbing” on which metaverses can be built is the Omniverse.
It’s an open platform that connects them to a broad network of users through USD universal 3D interchange. NVIDIA has already released 12 Omniverse Connectors for popular design software, with another 40 on the way. The Omniverse Connector SDK sample code is now available for download, allowing developers to create their own Connectors.
All of the major design tool platforms have signed up. NVIDIA has already enlisted partners from some of the world’s most well-known industries, including media and entertainment, gaming, architecture, engineering, construction, manufacturing, telecommunications, infrastructure, and automotive.
And the hardware required to execute it is now available.
NVIDIA-Certified workstations, notebooks, and servers are being built all around the world, and they’ve all been tested for executing GPU-accelerated applications with the best performance, reliability, and scale.
The metaverse is no longer science fiction, thanks to NVIDIA Omniverse.
From the Past to the Future
So, where do we go from here?
Humans have been manipulating how we view the world for thousands of years. We’ve used music, art, and literature for millennia to hack our senses and create virtual universes.
Add interactivity and the capacity to collaborate. Better screens, head-mounted displays such as the Oculus Quest, and mixed-reality devices such as Microsoft’s Hololens are all steps toward greater immersion.
All of these parts will change over time. The most crucial one, though, is already in place: a high-fidelity simulation of our virtual world to power the display. NVIDIA Omniverse is what it’s called.
To paraphrase science-fiction legend William Gibson, “the future is already here; it’s just not fairly distributed.”
The metaverse is the technique through which we can more evenly share those experiences. The metaverse, which has been brought to life by NVIDIA Omniverse, promises to weave humans, AI, and robots together in exciting new realms.