What Is the Metaverse? can we (finally) connect to it to do real work – if so, how?


What is the metaverse? The metaverse is a shared virtual 3D world, or worlds, that are interactive, immersive, and collaborative.

Just as the physical universe is a collection of worlds that are connected in space, the metaverse can be thought of as a bunch of worlds, too.

Massive online social games, like battle royale juggernaut Fortnite and user-created virtual worlds like Minecraft and Roblox, reflect some elements of the idea.

Video-conferencing tools, which link far-flung colleagues together amidst the global COVID pandemic, are another hint at what’s to come.

But the vision laid out by Neal Stephenson’s 1992 classic novel “Snow Crash” goes well beyond any single game or video-conferencing app.

The metaverse will become a platform that’s not tied to any one app or any single place — digital or real, explains Rev Lebaredian, vice president of simulation technology at NVIDIA.

And just as virtual places will be persistent, so will the objects and identities of those moving through them, allowing digital goods and identities to move from one virtual world to another, and even into our world, with augmented reality.

“Ultimately we’re talking about creating another reality, another world, that’s as rich as the real world,” Lebaredian says.

Those ideas are already being put to work with NVIDIA Omniverse, which, simply put, is a platform for connecting 3D worlds into a shared virtual universe.

Omniverse is in use across a growing number of industries for projects such as design collaboration and creating “digital twins,” simulations of real-world buildings and factories.

How NVIDIA Omniverse Creates, Connects Worlds Within the Metaverse

So how does Omniverse work? We can break it down into three big parts.

The first is Omniverse Nucleus. It’s a database engine that connects users and enables the interchange of 3D assets and scene descriptions.

Once connected, designers doing modeling, layout, shading, animation, lighting, special effects or rendering can collaborate to create a scene.

Omniverse Nucleus relies on USD, or Universal Scene Description, an interchange framework invented by Pixar in 2012.

Released as open-source software in 2016, USD provides a rich, common language for defining, packaging, assembling and editing 3D data for a growing array of industries and applications.

Lebardian and others say USD is to the emerging metaverse what hyper-text markup language, or HTML, was to the web — a common language that can be used, and advanced, to support the metaverse.

Multiple users can connect to Nucleus, transmitting and receiving changes to their world as USD snippets.

The second part of Omniverse is the composition, rendering and animation engine — the simulation of the virtual world.


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