Traditional VR often requires powerful computers and other high-performance devices to provide a good user experience. But what if there was a way to work with VR content from any device and anywhere? This is what Cloud VR - also called virtual reality cloud - promises to VR users. With the arrival of 5G and other network offers, this future for virtual reality technology might be sooner than we thought.
But what exactly is Cloud VR, and how will it help industries with their business? This article gives you heads up about the future of virtual reality and cloud technologies, and how it will differ from the immersive virtual reality we can currently experience.
What is Cloud VR?
Virtual reality is a computer-generated simulated environment, where one or several viewers can interact with virtual objects and virtual worlds. It is generally used with a head-mounted display, or projection-based associated with VR goggles. Using virtual reality devices in a professional setting enables you to experience the same virtual environment with your coworkers and collaborate remotely on complex VR projects.
Virtual reality cloud is the synergy between VR content and a cloud infrastructure. It means that parts of the computation tasks can be executed remotely on powerful hardware. Concretely, what is involved is an operator of Cloud infrastructure, such as AWS or Azure, telcos to transfer the data and a communication protocol such as NVIDIA’s Cloud XR. The overall goal of VR cloud computing is to lower the costs of the fully immersive experience by removing the requirements of local high-end hardware.
Until recently, the bottleneck to adoption of cloud VR was the latency. Indeed, the quality of cloud VR experience hinges heavily on the network’s ability to produce, transmit and render the interaction of several people on the 3D models with an almost imperceptible time gate. With the deployment of 5G and multiplication of server farms, smooth cloud virtual reality experience with adequate latency is within reach at most locations worldwide.
Cloud VR vs traditional VR
Current VR uses for industries rely on high-end PC, powerful hardware, and devices (for example for motion-tracking; body tracking or hand tracking) that can get pretty heavy over time. Plus, for engineering use cases, most all-in-one VR headsets are not enough extended wireless use (like Oculus Quest, HTC VIVE Focus, Pico Goblin or Pico Neo…), and will need to be tethered to a PC.
The adoption of VR technology remains hindered by 3 main factors:
- Hardware cost: the need for a virtual reality headset, VR-ready computer and other devices depending on your use case limits the users to those with powerful and expensive computing platforms
- Resolution and visual quality: for now, VR content still lacks the resolution we have with other display technologies, because it requires a lot of computing power.
- Mobility’s impact on usability: VR headsets for engineering use are usually tethered to the computer, which impacts the liberty of movement of the user.
VR cloudification changes everything as it relocates the need for powerful hardware, data storage and image processing requirements. When vr cloud computing will spread on the market (as soon as 5G is available), terminals will be cable free and easy to access from many places and devices (including smartphone and tablets). All you will need is a powerful-enough 5G to implement an online-user interactive virtual reality experience.
A cloud solution will execute the VR software directly on cloud servers, and stream only the necessary resources to the end users. Which will allow virtual reality headsets to be much thinner and cheaper. Besides, the content’s resolution will be optimized before streaming to the end user, making the VR experience much more qualitative and enjoyable.
Business opportunities provided by virtual reality cloud
As the AR/VR market builds toward an omnipresent compute environment (via 5G and cloud AR/VR), there are many business opportunities industries should be preparing for.
1 - Sharing the design of a future product or facility
When you work in a global company, or a company with several regional offices, it can be tough to be fully coordinated, especially when it comes to design a product. Regional offices often have more contact with the end customers, and it makes sense to include them in the product conception process. On the other hand, when trying to set up or reorganize a facility, being able to visualize the future building in its environment at every stage of the project is definitely a key advantage.
Both these use cases rely on VR simulation and sharing design steps between headquarters and (future) regional offices. With Cloud VR, you can discuss and enhance a virtual prototype or a facility design at 1:1 scale, while sharing the same virtual world with coworkers in another location, or even in another country.
2 - Visualizing VR projects and participating in design reviews
A virtual workstation is a client device (i.e. an office computer) connected to virtual machines (VM) that hosts desktops and applications. With VR cloud computing, all the data and 3d visualization software are located and stored on a remote VR collaboration platform located on the Cloud. As all the engineers will be able to share and interact with the CAD models in VR, and make effective project reviews, only by connecting their computer to the cloud.
Shifting to the cloud holds many advantages for engineering teams, especially in terms of computing power and increased storage space.
3 - Reviewing integration of supplied module in whole product
Mostly for large-scale products, or for buildings, not all the parts that constitute the final product is engineered and produced by the same company. As the product evolves and the different parts are assembled, it becomes increasingly important to keep track of the integration of the different modules. Since not all the subcontractors are using the same CAD application to create their 3D models, or are equal in terms of hardware, having everything virtualized on a cloud-based platform will make the review of integration of the supplied model much easier. Suppliers and customers will be able to collaborate better, without needing all the participants to the VR collaboration session to have high-end VR devices nor specialized CAD software.
All in all, VR cloud computing is perfect for VR collaboration
Whether it is for sharing a design between distant offices, or running a design review (for a large-scale project or not), everything revolves around VR collaboration. Virtual reality boosts your collaboration around complex projects:
- You organize VR meetings in the 3D environment that suit your project
- You share and work on the same CAD model at scale 1:1 an in real time
- You same time and resources before your prototypes hits production
Now, imagine that you can enjoy all these advantages anytime, anywhere, with your regular computer (or any other device like a tablet or a smartphone). This is what VR cloud computing is aiming at, and what we are currently developing at TechViz with our latest feature: Cloud&Viz.
Try Cloud VR with Cloud&Viz
Cloud&Viz is TechViz new VR cloud platform that enables instant streaming of your CAD content. TechViz is a virtual reality software for engineering and design, compatible with 200+ CAD applications (like CATIA, PTC Creo, Autodesk Navisworks…). You can run TechViz using various head mounted displays, or a CAVE. IT also combines very well with body tracking suits and finger tracking devices.
Cloud&Viz is TechViz’s next step towards the future of professional VR. With it, you can experience an interactive VR platform that immediately streams your VR content. The people sharing the virtual experience with you don’t need a CAD software or high-end computing power. They can interact with the virtual objects wearing any wireless VR heaset (like Oculus Rift and Quest, HTC Vive…) or even a smartphone!
Cloud&Viz enables your teams to get faster and more productive. You only need the host to open the 3D model in your native CAD application and then run TechViz VR software. The model is never uploaded or downloaded on any machine, just streamed, which keeps your CAD model in VR confidential at all times.
Want to know more about professional VR? Check-out our other articles about the evolution of virtual and augmented reality, and how it could benefit your business: