Wednesday - Escape, VR, Demos, and NVIDIA's HQ

Wednesday, March 28

The Ready Player One ESCAPE ROOM VR demo

We demo’d Ready Player One using the Vive Pro and were matched up with two programmers who were much younger.  The Holodeck software is based on NVIDIA’s existing technology including VRWorks, DesignWorks, GameWorks, and it requires NVIDIA’s fastest GPUs.

NVIDIA partnered with Warner Bros and HTC VIVE using assets from Ready Player One. Players are transported to the year 2045 and to Aech’s basement for an escape room-style experience.  To exit, players must cooperatively solve one puzzle which triggers the next. Teams that work together to complete the challenge within the set time are rewarded with success.The three of us were stationed in three separate rooms and each of  us put on a HMD to be instantly transported into VR so that we could interact in VR as though we were sharing the same large virtual room that was populated with a lot of items.  Unfortunately, my own controller had some difficulty with interaction, but after searching the room together for clues, I found the key, a coin, which was used to operate a retro Joust arcade console so we could play against each other to escape from the room.  I was the only one present who has actually played Joust on an arcade machine in the 1980s.  It was a lot of fun playing cooperatively in VR in a type of Holodeck, and it shows what can be accomplished now in VR arcades and eventually cooperatively over the Internet.  But the Holodeck is also a powerful platform for content creation. Designers can create virtual worlds and import models directly from their applications into Holodeck without any compromises.

In addition to VR and Project Holodeck,  Isaac advances training and testing of robots by using simulations to model all possible interactions between a robot and its environment.  The Isaac robot simulator provides an AI-based software solution for training robots in highly realistic virtual environments and then transferring what is learned to physical units.  Isaac is built on Epic Games’ Unreal Engine 4.

Attendees also got to interact with Isaac in VR by teaching it how a human would make pretzels with sticky dough as if he only had two digits like a robot does. I doubt that Isaac learned anything other than what not to do from my failed attempts, but I am glad to have contributed a little to his database.

Engineering and testing that would normally take months can be done in minutes. Once a simulation is complete, the trained system can be transferred to physical robots.
These industrial robots are taking over the repetitive and sometimes dangerous tasks that humans perform.

It was impressive to see 360 video streaming using a notebook and an external enclosure containing GV100.  Below is Times Square in New York City.

Other Demos – RTX, Growing metal, Robotics, VR & motion capture

Time is of the essence for most developers, and Ray Tracing (RT) takes a lot of time.  By using deep learning coupled with denosing similar to what was presented at last year’s SIGGRAPH, using RTX and GV100 production render has sped up so fast that the developer is nearly working in real time instead of waiting seconds or even minutes to preview their changes!

One of the most interesting demos used FLEX to design and “grow” suitable metal parts much like a plant grows subject to forces of wind and gravity to make them stronger.  After the part is finalized, the design can be sent to a 3D metal printer for immediate printing and use.

Cars with varying levels of automomy were also featured including NVIDIA’s Robo race car.

We are reminded that Google and just about every other major cloud platform uses NVIDIA’s GPUs for inferencing and deep learning;

NVIDIA showed off the DGX-1 in gold.And NVIDIA also displayed their DGX-2 and we are reminded of Jensen’s keynote slogan, “the more you buy, the more you save”, referring to the time element as money for those who require their calculations be done faster and faster.

And some of the GTX 2018 was for fun even though the implications of using a webcam for motion capture and for facial emotion recognition are obvious for game development.  OPTIX presented this interactive demo for all to see right in the main hallway of the GTC.

We are reminded that the GTC is all about people.  Helpful people.  People with passion for GPU computing and desire to share and learn.  The GPU and/or VR cannot yet replace face-to-face human contact.  Everywhere we saw people networking with each other.  We also engaged in it and our readers may ultimately see improvements to this tech site because of knowledge gained from GTC 2018.

NVIDIA’s Headquarters

NVIDIA’s headquarters are only about a 15 to 20 minute drive from the San Jose Convention Center, depending on traffic, of course.  We had asked for a tour of Nvidia’s HQ months ago and were met by NVIDIA’s top GeForce representative and were also joined by an industry insider that we both knew from years ago.  

One is struck immediately by the impressive industrial design and the symmetry of the architecture, and the triangle motif is repeated almost endlessly.

There are a lot of stairs and it is very easy to get confused inside so as to lose direction.  But there’s an app for that although there is no internal GPS or AR for guidance.  Security is tight and current badges are required for everyone to pass checkpoints.  Soon, it will become more efficient as retinal scans and other security measures are implemented, but implants are evidently not planned.

The industry rep who has also visited Google’s headquarters, says that NVIDIA’s new building and facilities are nicer (!)  Although the building is beyond ultra-modern, there is an emphasis on wood, and below is a beautiful table made of thick redwood slabs.  Our lunch was excellent and NVIDIA employees have a choice of about 7 or 8 ethnic cuisines whose menus are changed weekly, and choice of two different huge salad bars, one of which was Vegan.

Below is as close to NVIDIA’s secrets as we got.  The working areas have no private cubicles, so there are other areas in this building which are set aside for privacy and to think without interruption.  It looks like a really great place to work.

It’s an amazing building and it is one apparently designed for younger workers as there are a lot of stairs – besides triangles.

The tour was over after our lunch and we said our thank-yous and good-byes to our host.  I headed for home on Highway 101 South about 2:30 PM so as to just miss the San Jose rush hour evening traffic, and I arrived home before midnight without incident.