Nvidia Has Built a Real-Life Virtual Reality Holodeck

Tuesday, 10 October 2017 - 10:57AM
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Tuesday, 10 October 2017 - 10:57AM
Nvidia Has Built a Real-Life Virtual Reality Holodeck
Image Credit: Nvidia
As the ability to wander around artificial simulated worlds becomes easier thanks to developments in virtual reality technology, many companies have been working on creating innovative created spaces for users to inhabit, taking inspiration from Star Trek: The Next Generation's approach to simulated entertainment. Heck, there even exists a version of this technology for mice!

Most developers are playing coy with these digital worlds, avoiding a direct comparison to TNG by using unweidly names like the "Michigan Immersive Digital Experience Nexus", rather than calling a holographic spade a spade.

Not Nvidia - the company has cut right to the chase with their new creation, by simply naming it the Holodeck. Kudos for effective marketing, and for really cutting to the chase as to what this technology entails.



Created using virtual reality technology, there are limits to what the Nvidia Holodeck can achieve - in order to use the system, it's necessary to pop on a Geordi La Forge style head visor, and movement is limited to a small area around the user so that nobody ends up bumping into a coffee table or a wall while using this software.

That said, the Holodeck isn't exactly designed around home use - this is a creative tool that allows designers, architects, and other professionals to experience their plans and schematics as they'd be really seen in the real world. The proof of concept video that Nvidia has released shows, for example, a simulated car that would exist only in design documents, and a variety of different building structures.

In both instances, slipping into the Holodeck to experience initial design blueprints rendered to scale means that designers can get a sense of how the car looks and how functional its design is, or can see what a building would look like not just from a detached, third-person view, but also how it would feel to walk through the building's lobby, or navigate its hallways.

What really makes Nvidia's Holodeck interesting is the fact that it's AI-ready, meaning that in addition to wandering around their creations personally, designers can set a bunch of bots loose on a building in order to test how well it would deal with stress points and bottlenecks caused by heavy footfall. This kind of smart testing will hopefully mean that these kinds of creations will be that little bit more comfortable and user-friendly once completed, as Holodeck testing will allow designers to sand the edges off an otherwise lumpy blueprint.

Sure, in reality, this isn't quite the immersive experience that The Next Generation promises. VR only has a few input methods at the moment, and as the world only exists behind visors, it's not quite the same as seeing everything simulated holographically before the user's eyes.

There's room here to be excited, though. The Nvidia Holodeck is going to be incredibly useful for designers, especially thanks to its AI functionality. Until architects are themselves replaced by AI bots within the next few decades, this is good news for anyone who's ever had to navigate an office corridor that's just a little too narrow for the number of people that are milling about at the water cooler.
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