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The metaverse skyrocketed in our collective consciousness during the height of the pandemic, as people longed for better ways to connect than video calls. Gaming’s hot growth during the pandemic also pushed it forward. But the metaverse became so trendy that it’s now getting a backlash, and people don’t talk about it that much.
But technologies that will power the metaverse are shooting ahead. One such technology is generative AI, which uses deep learning neural networks to produce creative concept art and other ideas from simple text prompts.
Jensen Huang, CEO of AI and graphics chipmaker Nvidia, believes generative AI will be transformational and it’s just getting started. One of the biggest applications could be with the metaverse, which has huge content demands as developers need to populate virtual worlds with 3D assets. And plenty of companies like Stable Diffusion, Promethean AI, and Ludo AI are using these technologies to automatically generate artwork and other assets for gaming and metaverse applications. Nvidia has its own research in this area.
Many metaverse companies hope that generative AI will help provide them with the resources to help them build their world. Huang believes you’ll see progress as you enter more and more prompts – such as text to flesh out a concept – and the concept images get better and better. And he also believes that when it becomes reusable in different Omniverse applications, it will be clear that generative AI has reached a more mature stage.
I recently caught up with Huang for a short interview about the metaverse and gaming. Our GamesBeat Summit: Into the Metaverse 3 event will take place February 1-2.
Here is an edited transcript of our interview.
GamesBeat: I wonder if some people are losing their enthusiasm for the metaverse now. It was last year’s news. Maybe they think it’s an idea that could die in a recession. What would you say to that?
Jensen Huang: First, the definition of “metaverse” as it pertains to the virtual environment in which we develop artificial intelligence software. I believe Omniverse, metaverse, is essential to that journey. You can’t develop software that you can’t test. You cannot deploy software that you cannot test. Now that the world wants to be software-defined, where there’s a software-defined car or software-defined lawnmower or software-defined farming equipment or software-defined pick-and-place or software-defined warehouse, we can’t move into that new world without a virtual environment to simulate and test that software. That’s what Omniverse was built for in the first place. It makes sense to me that the next era of AI would require Omniverse, or what some people call the industrial metaverse.
In the day when it comes to commercial products, for example the marketing of home appliances, the ability to have a digital version of that product that you can place virtually in the environment you are in can be very helpful when shopping. I believe in the long run the idea of looking at a 2D image for shopping, digital shopping, versus seeing a 3D object in its environment — I think it’s very clear that metaverse will be used for commerce . Whether the metaverse will be used for video conferencing – which I think it will be – and other uses, it’s only a matter of time. The examples I’ve mentioned will absolutely happen.
GamesBeat: In this age of generative AI, how do you think this will help make the metaverse happen?
Huang: How could consumers create virtual worlds without too much effort without generative AI? Now you can create virtual worlds in 3D, which comes into play. You see it’s going to happen. We can now do generative AI for images. We can do it for videos. With the speed at which it moves, you do it for entire villages; 3D villages and landscapes and cities and so on. You can assemble an image preview and generate a full 3D world. That will enable the metaverse as you can’t believe it. You need it. Absolute.
That’s exactly why I always say, when we talk about the metaverse, when we talk about Omniverse, AI and Omniverse go hand in hand. It’s the same for me.
GamesBeat: A prediction from Newzoo came out saying that gaming as an industry could shrink year over year for the first time in over a decade. What do you think of that? Is that a concern, or do you see that as something that would be a correction before we resume growth in gaming?
Huang: If you go back, you’ll find that PC gaming has been slow for a while compared to the other platforms. The reason is that PC gaming is more than measurable through packaged game sales or digital download sales.
Where gaming begins and where creativity begins is really hard to say anymore. So many people are influencers and video bloggers and avatars. The definition of gaming is a lot broader on PC. If you look at one of the most important applications on the PC right now, it’s generative AI. All these people who create graphics of animation and graphics of games. Gaming for PCs has always been a growing category that reinvents and redefines itself.
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