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NVIDIA’s Iray Technology Takes Virtual Reality beyond Gaming

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Apr. 18 2016, Updated 11:05 a.m. ET

Virtual reality for consumers

In the previous part of the series, we saw that NVIDIA (NVDA) launched a VR-ready (virtual reality) hardware and software graphic solution for developers at the GTC 2016 conference.

Much is in store for consumers as well. The company demonstrated its Everest VR demo at the conference. To create the VR experience, 108 billion pixels were used on 10 million polygons taken from more than 14,000 images of the mountain.

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The company also demonstrated its Mars 2030 VR on two GeForce GTX Titan X cards. The company is looking to move VR beyond gaming toward other business applications such as tourism, architecture, and medicine. At the conference, NVIDIA’s CEO Jen-Hsun Huang stated that VR has large growth potential, as it’s not just a new gaming technology but a new computing platform.

With an aim to go beyond realistic experience and create a real experience on VR, NVIDIA unveiled its Iray VR and Iray VR Lite technologies at the conference.

Iray VR technology

NVIDIA’s Iray VR technology creates photorealistic imagery by rendering the physical behavior of light and materials. It creates 100 probes on how light travels throughout the area in 4K resolution and enables the user to view a scene with more realistic lighting based on the direction in which the user is standing in the virtual world.

Real-time rendering of such realistic frames is not possible, as it takes up to an hour to create a photorealistic room on an 8 GPU system.

The company unveiled Iray VR Lite, which creates 100 light probes, renders pixels from each view, then gives the user a photorealistic environment on a real-time basis. The company will make the Iray VR and Iray VR Lite available in June 2016.

Industry forecast

Digi-Capital forecasts that the AR (augmented reality) market will reach $90 billion and the VR market will reach $30 billion by 2020. Asia (AAXJ) will account for a major portion of the market, with domestic competition increasing in China. Both Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) and NVIDIA are well-placed to tap this growth.

The strong growth potential of AR and VR in the computing and mobile spaces has also attracted Intel (INTC) and Qualcomm (QCOM) to join the competition.

The next big trend NVIDIA is eyeing is deep learning. The company unveiled some of its next-generation deep learning technologies, Pascal GPU and DGX-1, at the GTE 2016 conference.

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