American multinational technology company NVIDIA is quietly securing a spot on the metaverse race.
The global manufacturer of graphics processing units and integrated circuit technologies for mobile devices and computers has rolled out a free version of its “Omniverse” software to developers. The company made the announcement at the CES 2022 tech trade show in Las Vegas.
Omniverse is a “scalable, multi-GPU real-time reference development platform” that allows artists and creators to deploy metaverse-ready assets. It is based on Pixar’s Universal Scene Description (USD), which has grown to become the widely-accepted format for universal interchange between 3D applications. Omniverse also employs some of NVIDIA’s tech, such as real-time photorealistic rendering, interactive workflows between multiple 3D software products, physics, and materials.
“The basis of Omniverse is connecting existing 3D software tools that typically don’t talk well to each other […] You can think of USD as the HTML of 3D,” Richard Kerris, vice president of the Omniverse platform for Nvidia, said in a press briefing.
Although NVIDIA has doled out its Omniverse software to a much larger audience of creators, the annual license for the program starts at $9,000 for corporate clients.
Commenting on the decision to make the software free for individuals, Kerris said:
We look at it as the same context as an operating system. A rising tide lifts all boats. There will be many avenues for commerce on these virtual worlds. We think there is an entire economy coming for these virtual worlds. The more we can make it available, the better all of us can benefit.
For the uninitiated, the metaverse has been touted as the next generation of the internet – an ecosystem where users can interact with objects and other humans in a virtual world, and in a multisensorial way. It combines a plethora of innovative technologies, including Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, Procedural Image Generation, Artificial Intelligence, and more recently, non-fungible tokens (NFTs).
The metaverse race between Big Tech appears to have heated up since Facebook changed its name to Meta in October.