How Virtual Reality Is Making the Leap into Everyday Life

by Greg Estes

Headlines about virtual reality often focus on how it’s upending the world of gaming. But VR is also revolutionizing fields across everyday life — areas like medicine, architecture, education, product design and retailing.

A great example is Audi’s new virtual showroom, where you can explore each of their models in vivid detail through VR. The German automaker is using NVIDIA Quadro GPUs to craft a virtual showroom that lets you build custom configurations of any Audi model, and experience them in a number of environments.

Surgical Theater LLC is launching a new division focused on using their VR technology in surgery, such as for brain tumor procedures. They’re utilizing multiple NVIDIA GPUs and NVIDIA SLI technology to increase resolution and responsiveness. Surgeons, as a result, can “fly through” a patient’s anatomy prior to surgery.

And if the recent Hollywood hit “The Martian” got you pondering what it’s really like on the red planet, 20th Century Fox can help. They and partners are debuting The Martian VR Experience, an interactive, immersive VR adventure. It lets you fly onto the surface of Mars, steer at zero gravity through space, drive a rover and experience other key scenes from the film in a 360-degree VR environment. The CES demonstrations are powered by NVIDIA GPUs, delivering extremely high frame rates at high fidelity for the maximum visual experience.

These — and countless other initiatives — are coming onto the market now because of the confluence of new VR headsets and NVIDIA’s leading-edge graphics innovation.

GPUs are at the heart of VR, which demands refresh rates of up to 90 times a second for each eye. A truly immersive experience requires as much as 7x the processing power needed to display a game on a typical monitor. NVIDIA’s latest Maxwell architecture GPUs are optimized for VR performance with ultra-low latency, fast performance and new rendering capabilities specifically for VR.

Great software capabilities are also required for VR. And a number of companies are creating breakthrough new applications using NVIDIA CUDA, our parallel computing platform, and our DesignWorks VR software development kit. These innovators are merging the real world and the virtual world to create new experiences for consumers, educators, scientists and designers.

Jaunt partners with world-class creatives to produce and distribute premium cinematic VR content across a wide variety of experiences — ranging from narrative storytelling to music, travel/adventure, sports, documentary and more. Recently Jaunt has partnered with news organizations such as ABC News, SkyNews and Ryot to bring immersive 360-degree virtual reality journalism to consumers. Jaunt processes their content in the cloud using CUDA and NVIDIA GPUs, which is essential to their ability to scale and put VR content in the hands of people wherever they are.

Nurulize uses NVIDIA GPUs to process data from lidar scans to create highly detailed scene reconstructions used to bring real-world environments into the virtual world. Their Atom View technology allows vast point cloud data from the industry’s leading scanners to be imported and viewed without manual re-work or time consuming post-processing, allowing viewing within minutes rather than weeks or months.

And 8i is launching at CES their new 8i Portal VR player. They run CUDA-optimized implementations of their proprietary algorithms to maximize content throughput in creating stunning volumetric 3D videos of real people as well as using NVIDIA GPUs for high-performance VR playback.

In the areas of education and edutainment, is providing virtual access to historical sites and inaccessible areas. Their larger-than-life journeys are created from photogrammetry, photos, videos, interactive elements and massive amounts of data. CUDA-based software from CapturingReality handles the processing and NVIDIA GPUs are used for visualization.

And in the area of product design, Ford is making VR central to their design process. With its Ford Immersive VR Environment (FiVE) capability — driven by two top-of-the-line NVIDIA Quadro M6000 cards — the automaker can evaluate vehicle prototypes in real time, in full scale and in context. It brings energy, emotion and accuracy to its immersive 3D visual environments.