Keys to the (Smart) City: NVIDIA Powers Mini AI Metropolis at MWC Los Angeles

by Kristin Uchiyama

This neighborhood has shopping, cafes, even a place to go to school. But it happens to fit nearly inside a 2,000 square-foot trade show booth, showing off smart city technology.

With a miniature town erected on the show floor, NVIDIA welcomed more than 22,000 telecom industry professionals attending the Mobile World Congress in Los Angeles.

Crowds jammed into the booth to see how pervasive AI and connectivity can elevate experiences in the world around us. While most cities are powered by elaborate power and water grids, this one’s infrastructure is built on NVIDIA AI technologies.

They include the just-introduced NVIDIA EGX Edge Supercomputer Platform, the NVIDIA Metropolis IoT application framework, and NVIDIA Jetson AGX Xavier, the world’s most powerful system-on-a-chip, and a multitude of others.

A Vibrant Ecosystem

Front and center, a huge display at the front of the booth monitoring the heart of our virtual city told the stories of a diverse array of NVIDIA EGX-powered technologies.

Qwake Technologies, for example, creates augmented reality maps to guide firefighters. Volvo Trucks has built Vera, the first cabin-less autonomous truck to move cargo. Blue River Technologies is using AI to apply tiny doses of pesticides with incredible precision.

Shopping Spree

Steps away, showgoers could stroll into a convenience store stocked with everything from Fuji spring water to KitKats to Chex Mix. Thanks to startup AiFi’s EGX-powered systems, customers could simply grab what they needed and go, and get invisibly charged to the sale.

Another startup, AnyVision, showed how it’s using EGX to do real-time analytics of customer’s shopping behaviors, giving real-world stores the same kind of insights into shopping behavior long enjoyed by online ones.

Nearby, Malong Technologies showed how its GPU-powered system allows shoppers to grab a bunch of grapes or a banana, and have the checkout system instantly recognize it — no bar codes needed.

Around the corner, food delivery service Postmates showed off what it describes as the first socially aware food delivery robot. Its diminutive yellow robot, equipped with powerful lidar sensors and a playful digital face, is powered by NVIDIA EGX servers running in a data center, Jetson AGX Xavier, and NVIDIA JetPack software developer kit.

No modern city is complete without a gaming café. The NVIDIA Edge Cafe’s games, however, are hosted on a data center miles away and beamed to devices over Wi-Fi and Verizon’s 5G network.

The result: cheap, light laptops and smartphones equipped with game controllers were able to play the latest games in stunning high-definition quality at 60 frames per second.

Gawking at an Invisible Car

Of course no great street scene — or trade show booth — is complete without a car. In a witty twist, this car’s invisible until you pick up an ordinary smartphone.

Looking through the phone’s screen, you can check out a million-dollar, cherry-red McLaren Senna sports coupe mounted on a pedestal at the front of the booth.

“Okay, so that was pretty cool,” said Danny Miller, a car aficionado who works in sales and marketing for a media company after taking a long look at the curvaceous virtual coupe.

The demo relied on the NVIDIA CloudXR software developer kit, which lets enterprises deliver virtual and augmented reality experiences across 5G networks to let showgoers see a virtual car created out of 28 million polygons and running an NVIDIA Quadro RTX 8000 GPU.

No City’s Complete Without Top-Rated Schools

This city is even equipped with not one, but two places where you can go to school to learn more.

The NVIDIA theater features speakers from around the industry — like Kundana Palagiri, principal program manager for Microsoft Azure; and Usman Sadiq, deep learning product manager at Cisco — who shared their real-world experience with scores of listeners.

Around the corner, NVIDIA’s Deep Learning Institute had set up a bank of 15 laptops for  hands-on training in AI and accelerated computing to solve real-world problems to developers, data scientists, researchers and students led by expert instructors.

Attendees from marketing, security and customer service companies — among others — inspired by what they’ve heard at the show, signed up for hands-on training.

Join the Crowd

This tiny city, in short, has almost anything you could need. The only downside: like any bustling city, there’s plenty of traffic. All of it, in this case, on foot.

Scores of attendees crowded into the booth to gawk, snap photos and grab black-shirted NVIDIA employees to ask questions and exchange business cards.

In town? Stop by our town at booth 1745 in the South Hall of the Los Angeles Convention Center.