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Everyone is talking about the metaverse, which is expected to fundamentally change every single thing we do.
As Richard G. Kerris described it: Think of the metaverse as the network.
“It’s the network of the next generation of the web, it’s 3D, and that allows for immersive experiences in virtual worlds,” Kerris, VP of Omniverse platform and development IGM of M&E at Nvidia, said in a fireside chat with Dean Takahashi, lead writer for GamesBeat, at this week’s MetaBeat event.
Ultimately, it will impact everything; we will be able to go “from virtual world to virtual world just as we do from website to website,” he said.
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The fundamental difference is that today we experience the internet as “witnesses,” he said: We visit a website to look at it and what it offers. In the metaverse? We will evolve to experience and engagement.
“To the point that it’s become seamless, it’s a part of our lives, from what we do at home to what we do at work and everything in between,” said Kerris.
Enter the Omniverse
To help realize that future, Nvidia recently launched Omniverse, a suite of metaverse building tools. This real-time graphics platform leverages Universal Scene Description (USD), a software developed by Pixar that allows for collaborative construction of 3D scenes.
Kerris described this “platform for collaboration and simulation” as having two distinct parts.
The first is the ability to bring existing applications to Omniverse. There, they can be infused with additional capabilities such as artificial intelligence (AI) or 3D rendering. The second is the opposite flow, or the development of digital twins. Organizations can create digital worlds, then build physical content based on them.
Further advancing this, Nvidia recently announced Omniverse Cloud. This moves the entire platform to the cloud so it is “accessible anywhere, by anybody on any device,” he said.
Those who don’t have access to Nvidia’s visual computing platform RTX, or those that don’t support it, can access Omniverse, which he ultimately described as the OS of the metaverse. There have already been more than 200,000 Omniverse downloads, and hundreds of organizations — including Amazon, Charter Communications and Lowe’s — are using it or evaluating it.
The power of digital twins
Much like the metaverse, “digital twins is something that is going to be a part of all of our lives,” said Kerris.
They unlock great efficiency and optimization: For example, BMW has built digital twins for factories to evaluate processes. Lowe’s, meanwhile, is building digital twins of stores to enhance layouts and monitor inventories. And, Amazon is digital twinning its warehouses to better train its robots.
People are more efficiently and seamlessly producing contents and building products; they don’t need to import, export and download files, said Kerris. They can manage “through nucleus” their content and assets.
“You’re no longer having to move these heavy, heavy pieces of content,” said Kerris.
From a fear of missing out (FOMO) perspective: “Take a look at what companies missed out on, on the web,” he said.
Applications both life-saving and practical
Digital twins can also have great implications in healthcare, said Kerris. Operating rooms are already building digital twins where doctors practice very complex operations before performing them.
Eventually, though, we’ll see twins of the human body and in cancer treatment, he said. One of the biggest challenges in cancer care is determining the best treatment; doctors and patients go through many iterations before they identify the right one.
But in the future, if a doctor has a digital twin of a certain tumor, they’ll be able to identify the right treatment much more quickly, he said.
Meanwhile, in practical applications, “eventually, you’ll have digital twins of your home,” said Kerris.
For instance, if you want to make repairs or upgrades or simply want to train a vacuum robot so it gets to know the layout of your home. He pointed out that there are already apps where people can try-before-they-buy clothing or preview how a piece of furniture might look in their homes.
In the end, “it just makes sense,” said Kerris.
The earthly digital twin
On a much larger scale, Nvidia recently launched the ambitious Earth 2, the world’s digital twin.
Not surprisingly, it’s a multiyear project, said Kerris, as “it’s much more complex than a factory, much more complex than a warehouse.”
The initial purpose of Earth 2 is to evaluate climate: Notably, what’s causing and affecting climate change. Nvidia aims to use digital twins to learn from history and enable prediction of different ways the earth might be impacted, “almost like a time machine.”
A supercomputer is being built to enable the immense power that Earth 2 will require, said Kerris, and “the end result is something that is going to benefit us all.”
When will the metaverse be here?
We’re not quite at the metaverse yet; just like the internet, there has to be an alignment around a standard, said Kerris. Universal “plumbing,” so to speak. That is beginning to happen with USD, which Kerris said was described by many as the HTML of the metaverse. The “beauty” of USD is that it is so open, said Kerris.
For the metaverse to be successful, it needs to be open for all. “We’ve learned our lesson with companies that tried to wall off parts of the internet in the early days,” said Kerris. “That doesn’t work on the internet, it’s not going to work in the metaverse.”
And no one company can build the metaverse; it will grow organically, just as the web has.
“When would you say that the web was here?” said Kerris. “We use it and we don’t think about it. One day we’ll wake up and realize that our internet is all 3D and we just interact with things.”
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