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Nvidia CEO: VR immersion problems 20 years from being solved

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Jen-Hsun Huang Computex

Nvidia’s CEO reckons the challenges holding VR back aren’t going to be solved for 20 years, delivering a surprising dose of realism to a VR industry creaking under the weight of hype.

Speaking at Nvidia’s press conference on the eve of Computex, Jen-Hsun Huang made a depressing list of shortcomings in VR that have to be solved before, in his eyes, the platform is delivering proper realism.

“Oh my gosh, we’re missing so much,” he said. “First of all, VR displays are a little too cumbersome. It has to be much more elegant, being connected by a wire has to be solved. The resolution has to be a lot higher. The physical worlds do not behave according to the laws of physics. The environment you’re in isn’t beautiful enough. We’re going to be solving this problem for the next 20 years.”

He added: “Having 20 years for employment is a good thing.”

His comments won’t surprise many people who’ve used VR so far, but what’s interesting is how little interest in actually solving this side of the problem the CEO expressed.

Related: Oculus Rift review

A problem without an Nvidia solution

When asked about what sort of efforts Nvidia could make about solving these sorts of problems themselves, Huang batted the question off, merely talking about the company’s many hundreds of side projects that eventually get kicked into the weeds.

“As a company we experiment a lot,” he said. “We have hundreds of projects in the company… most of them get thrown away.”

Related: HTC Vive review

Jen-Hsun Huang Computex GTX 1080The Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 wielded by Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang at Computex 2016

From this perhaps we can learn that Nvidia is working to solve these problems but hasn’t come up with a satisfactory result, or more that it just isn’t the sort of company that solves VR hardware problems.

To an extent this makes sense: Nvidia has grown beyond a manufacturer of gaming GPUs; the only reason the new GeForce GTX 1080 exists is because of Pascal, a technology that Nvidia is far more keen to push as a supercomputing and AI powerhouse than it is as a gaming platform.

Throughout the press conference, Huang reiterated time and time again that Nvidia’s target customers are those with ‘impossible’ computing tasks. He also made very clear the company is no longer interested in mobile devices, unless that mobile device is a self-driving car.

This is a new line of Nvidia branding that hasn’t been seen much until this year and shows how far the company has come in terms of technology and branding.

Watch: HTC Vive vs Oculus Rift – which is best?

Nvidia will provide the brains to power the developers and gamers who use VR, but the more fundamental problems of VR, such as its tethered experience, would appear to be in the hands of the headset makers themselves.

Better save up for a backpack PC.

Mexor

May 30, 2016, 5:25 pm

NVIDIA doesn't make VR headsets. Why would they have concrete plans on solving these problems? In fact they are doing some research with light field displays and low-latency displays and I'm sure other things, but their main contribution to the issues will be providing the computing horsepower necessary to enact the solutions to the problems.

Michael Passingham

May 30, 2016, 9:41 pm

I agree with you, I just found it interesting how completely focused Jen-Hsun is on the computing side of things. But yes, you are right, Nvidia's best shot is to keep on keepin' on with its graphics kit.

Mexor

May 30, 2016, 10:36 pm

Yeah, gaming was still over half their revenue, maybe like 3 billion or so the last year. Data center was less than 400 million this past year, but Jen-Hsun Huang said he expects it to be 1 billion in 2 or 3 years. It's growing faster and the margins of that business are higher than of gaming. That's probably why he's focusing on it. They're not going to be reducing emphasis on the gaming segment though. That's their bread and butter.

Ross Stokell

May 31, 2016, 5:06 am

I have said this before, in other forums, and I will say it again, here, just in case this is the only column you read, The "New" industrie(s) surrounding the VR "Juggernaut" are showing apprehension bordering on paranoia that their particular cash cow is heading to the butchers.
Is it one industry, or, as I maintain several industries, many being co-reliant to survive, and the piggy trough is so full of cash, cream and credit, that they ignore credible assessment(s) and 'invent' the next iteration of products with flimsy credentialed history in the modern world.
Some think that 'Singularity' is 20yrs away, well here's some news, I have been beating the S3D-VR-AR-MR-PR drum for 27 years, and have overcome many (foreseen) difficulties and physiological issues raised in current forums, by applying an R&D regime to experimentation.
This is the moment in media history that I have been waiting for.
Thanks Nvidia for providing a working tool-set along the way, it's a great product, but you are now looking to recapture glory years, conquer new horizons that in this case, will be akin to sailing off the edge of the world for you, don't look down, it's scary....Down Here!

Jono

June 1, 2016, 4:15 am

As someone who is working a bit in the industry, Nvidia is spot on. Nvidia knows actually what the issues are with VR and are actively researching it. Just because they aren't releasing an actual VR headset does not mean they are not fully aware of the technology.

Sunwooz

June 1, 2016, 5:16 am

To me, VR works NOW. I take this as "VR will be improving for the next 20 years" rather than "VR does not work and will not work until 20 years have passed"

Marvin R.

June 1, 2016, 8:36 am

you should read that https://www.quora.com/How-big-...

BillPosters

June 1, 2016, 5:00 pm

After hearing all the hype of VR, I put the headset on and was a little disappointed in the resolution; the mess of wires; the nausea; the awkward ergonomics, the lack of sight to the real world... The list goes on. The hype of VR forgot to mention it's still in its infancy.

If you have the headset on too long - say 30 minutes, when removing it you don't feel too good, you're glad to remove it from your head. This isn't cool, because most people who play games and enjoy 3d worlds need more than 30 minute sessions. I think the hype came from many people trying it for 5 minutes, then blogging about how awesome it is.

Sunwooz

June 1, 2016, 5:57 pm

Yeah, I've already seen that. People on HackerNews kinda ripped apart his arguments already.

My opinions aren't coming from hype. I have a VR device and it works now.

Christopher Barnhouse

June 2, 2016, 3:08 am

I use my Rift for hours at a time and I feel fine when I'm done. I think criticism comes from people like you who try it one time and make broad generalizations and project your own issues on to everyone else.

Neel Gupta

June 21, 2016, 10:44 am

Some people are just more prone to nausea/sea sickness; for example when riding a roller coarser / aeroplane / boat.
A Simple fact: If you feel nausea on a roller coaster, you will feel nausea in VR !

Buddydudeguy

June 21, 2016, 11:37 pm

There shouldn't be nausea with the Vive or Rift. Potatostation VR or Cellphone crap is another story and isn't the real thing at all /underpowered.
If you are actually talking about Vive or Rift here, maybe you are just more sensitive but don't talk about it like a universal issue.

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