Star Trek’s holodeck moves closer to reality with a VR environment that allows designers to collaborate and test using real-world physics.
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Anyone who has watched ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’ will be familiar with that show’s ‘holodeck’ – a self-contained virtual reality environment that can instantly bring almost any situation to life. While the world envisioned in Star Trek may still be some way off, the holodeck itself may be moving closer to reality. Silicon Valley tech company Nvidia has designed a photorealistic, collaborative virtual reality environment which allows designers to import and interact with highly complex, detailed models in real time, incorporated the feeling of the real world through the use of sight, sound and haptics. Unsurprisingly, Nvidia have named their environment Project Holodeck.
The Holodeck allows creators to import high-fidelity, full-resolution models into virtual reality. This makes it much easier and faster for designers to collaborate, prototype, review and tweak designs. The Holodeck uses simulated real-world physics to create highly detailed models using photorealistic graphics at life-size scale, allowing engineers to interact with the objects being prototyped before they’re built. It also allows AI to be developed and deployed in the virtual space to test designs against real-world conditions.
Although we have already seen VR developed for uses as diverse as physical therapy and skills training, Nvidia is hoping that Holodeck will open up new areas for collaborative VR design. In pre-release testing, architects, NASA engineers and automotive designers used the platform to build out and test their designs in VR. The company is now welcoming experienced 3D designers to apply for early access to the system. With Holodeck, Nvidia could be poised to lead a shift towards using more collaborative VR design tools in design. What types of applications are there for a collaborative VR ‘holodeck’?