AiThority Interview with Matt Coppinger, Director AR/VR at VMware
What is the partnership with NVIDIA all about?
We’ve partnered with NVIDIA around their CloudXR SDK, which provides a streaming protocol for AR/VR workloads. We’ve validated running AR/VR workloads on VMware vSphere with NVIDIA GPUs and vGPU software and using CloudXR to stream to a standalone headset such as the Oculus Quest. We have published a whitepaper on our testing which is available via the Pathfinder service on vmware.com.
In addition, we have built the CloudXR SDK into our Project VXR client application, enabling us to deliver AR/VR content to a standalone headset.
AR VR with GPU Virtualization — that’s a really cool computing space we are entering in 2020. Please tell us a bit about the opportunities and threats in this new emerging market?
Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality have both matured significantly over the last 6 years driven by investments by major technology companies. Now that these technologies cost less and are more practical to deploy, AR and VR provide huge benefits in the enterprise. Studies show that VR is significantly better at training individuals than traditional methods, while AR can reduce human error and the time it takes to complete tasks.
The main use cases we see for AR and VR in the enterprise are immersive training, remote assistance, design and visualization, augmented workflows and remote collaboration.
With the current global situation, AR and VR can help enhance remote working, for example, employees can train at home using virtual reality or a home-based expert can assist a frontline worker using AR.
VR has typically been limited to pro-visualization workstations, but now an increasing number of standalone VR headsets are available. The challenge with a standalone headset is that it doesn’t have the GPU capability to deliver high fidelity VR experiences or highly detailed digital twins in AR. Running AR/VR on VMware vSphere and streaming the AR/VR content to a standalone headset gives you the power of a pro-viz workstation with the mobility of a standalone headset, making AR and VR more accessible to employees.
Streaming AR/VR workloads require low latency, high bandwidth networking, a great streaming protocol, a performant virtualization platform and a secure access client on a standalone headset. AR/VR streaming will benefit from the deployment of local 5G networks and edge computing solutions that can deliver CPU and GPU capacity closer to corporate users.
NVIDIA CloudXR delivers a great streaming protocol, while VMware provides a market-leading virtualization platform that already supports NVIDIA GPU virtualization.
Within the VMware Office of the CTO we are working on a native secure access client to complete the solution.
Which industries are best poised to take full advantage of AR VR development on VMs?
Many industries will benefit from AR/VR, for VR specifically, any industry where employees require training on physical tasks can see immediate benefits today. Retail is using VR to train store staff for a variety of scenarios as well as basic operational training. Healthcare companies today are using VR to train surgeons and other medical practitioners in various medical procedures.
The Oil and Gas industry is also improving the safety of their employees through immersive training. In order to get the fidelity of experience, organizations will want a training solution that has the power of a PC but the mobility of a standalone headset.
The great thing about VR training is that it is digital, measurable, repeatable, scalable and can be completed remotely. VR is also being used by companies that design and architect buildings, products, cars, aircraft etc. VR is great for remote collaborative design at human scale.
By utilizing a streamed AR/VR solution, designers have access to the fidelity of experience required to design every little detail such as the material used on a certain part. Finally, VR can be used to enhance remote collaboration.
VMware currently has a pilot program where employees can meet in VR in order to whiteboard ideas, share content and have a unique meeting experience.
Today, AR is limited to mobile devices such as phones, tablets and standalone headsets such as Microsoft HoloLens 2, Magic Leap and nReal.
Many organizations wish to leverage AR in assembly, inspection, repair and maintenance – in order to improve product quality and reduce task duration.
By comparing a real-world object to its digital twin, it’s faster for employees to assemble or identify issues with real-world product. The challenge today is rendering a high-fidelity digital twin on a mobile device, typically CAD or product models contain millions of polygons which mobile devices simply struggle to render.
By utilizing AR/VR streaming, organizations can stream high-fidelity digital twin models to mobile devices in order to truly deliver AR use cases. Industries that design, build and maintain complex products will benefit from AR technologies.
Which products, solutions and services make up the End User Computing package? What kind of new tools and solutions in End User Computing can we expect to sprout in the next 2-3 years?
VMware Workspace ONE provides a digital workspace solution including unified device management, conditional application access, virtual desktops and applications and is a key enabler to digital transformation.
Workspace ONE can help manage, deploy and secure AR/VR devices such as the Pico VR devices, Oculus Quest, Microsoft HoloLens 2 and more. Using Workspace ONE is a critical first step to any AR/VR deployment so that IT can confidently deploy these new devices in the enterprise. VMware Horizon and VMware vSphere can be used to deploy, manage and run AR/VR applications either on-prem, at the edge or in the cloud. vSphere fully supports NVIDIA vGPU, which allows a virtual machine to deliver high-fidelity graphics for running applications. VMware and Dell offer a complete Digital Workspace solution including software, hardware and services.
I can’t comment on the End User Computing product roadmap for AR/VR but I can talk about the advanced R&D project I’m leading within the VMware Office of the CTO. Project VXR is a cross-platform secure enterprise client for AR/VR devices. It is integrated with VMware Workspace ONE to enable a simple but secure enterprise user experience natively on AR/VR devices.
Project VXR provides access to applications and content provisioned by IT to devices using Workspace ONE. VXR allows users to access web based applications and even virtual desktops as well as native AR/VR applications. Most importantly though, Project VXR has the NVIDIA CloudXR SDK built in, giving it the capability to deliver AR/VR streaming to standalone headsets. VXR provides secure access to VMs running AR/VR applications and uses CloudXR to display those applications on a remote headset. VXR is currently a project and not an official product from VMware.
Customers interested in VXR should contact their VMware representative.
A COVID-19 business continuity advice —
There’s lots of great advice out there already about business continuity during these challenging times, particularly around IT infrastructure. From a personal and people perspective, working at home has its own challenges and its important the remote workforce doesn’t sit for hours on end at a keyboard or in front of video conferencing calls. I have found that VR has given me a great way to change up my day, keep active while in lockdown and also provide unique ways of interacting with colleagues. There are some great applications for VR that can help with mental wellness through guided experiences or meditation. There are also some really fun apps that get you out of your seat and moving around and it can even be used for a gamified workout.
Finally, meeting colleagues in VR can be a fun way to meet and interact and a great change-up from video conferencing. I encourage those that can access a VR headset to give it a try!
Thank you, Matt! That was fun and we hope to see you back on AiThority.com soon.
Matt Coppinger is currently Director, AR/VR at VMware.
As part of the Office of the CTO xLabs team, Matt leads VMware’s research and development in spatial computing – also known as virtual reality and augmented reality. He has spent the last 13 years at VMware bringing to market End User Computing products with roles across Engineering, Professional Services and Technical Product Marketing. Matt worked as an engineer on the first virtual desktop products at VMware and then led some of the first large scale virtual desktop deployments in Europe and then globally via VMware’s center of excellence. More recently Matt led VMware’s Technical Marketing organization for its End User Computing business unit.
VMware software powers the world’s complex digital infrastructure. The company’s cloud, app modernization, networking, security, and digital workspace offerings help customers deliver any application on any cloud across any device. Headquartered in Palo Alto, California, VMware is committed to being a force for good, from its breakthrough technology innovations to its global impact.