At today’s GPU Technology Conference keynote, Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang showed off a project known as Holodeck — a shared virtual space where people can examine photorealistic objects. In this case, carmaker Christian Koenigsegg and three other people entered the Holodeck to see a model of Koenigsegg’s new $1.9 million luxury car.
Inside the simulation, users could grab the car’s steering wheel, or watch it explode into its component parts. According to VentureBeat, which was impressed with the graphical quality, the Holodeck will be available more widely as a demo in September.
In practice, this looks a bit like the real-time car rendering that Epic Games and The Mill showed off at this spring’s Game Developers Conference. Unfortunately, it’s not quite as cool. Epic put an augmented reality skin over a real, physical car, while Nvidia seems to have rendered a completely virtual car really well, in the kind of shared VR environment that car makers are already using.
When I first saw a tweet about this demo, I thought Nvidia might be showing off something related to VR platform Project Holodeck, now known as Survios, or that perhaps it was referencing the Star Trek Holodeck background you can set in the HTC Vive. Or that maybe it was a reference to the approximately three billion projects that have informally been described as “holodecks,” sometimes by this very site.
But Nvidia does in fact appear to have created a new project called the “Holodeck,” forcing me to write yet another headline about Holodecks, which are an incredibly annoying point of comparison for VR in general. Nvidia’s blog also describes the avatars as “lightly clad space/time travelers,” but they basically just look like robots, which doesn’t seem quite right.
This is a lot more forgivable from Nvidia than other companies, though, because Nvidia genuinely is driving VR graphical performance in some interesting ways. Besides, I’ll admit it: the car looks cool.