Scaling Up Immersive Tech With Blockchain

For Virtual, Augmented and Mixed Reality applications to work as mass market propositions, we need GUP infrastructure. One company is leveraging blockchain to do just that.

When you mention “Pokemon Go,” everyone remembers bumping into walls, people and maybe even cars, trying to catch rare AR characters from their phone, but there is a lot more to Augmented Reality than crossing the road without paying attention as you’re chasing little creatures on your screen.

AR has enormous potential for transforming shopping experiences, both online and offline. With Augmented Reality technology, consumers will soon be routinely trying on designer outfits and seeing how they look at home, or in AR pop-up stores. It will help you to virtually decorate your home. Ikea is just one of the major retailers to embrace this tech, but to run smoothly, these applications will require a large amount of processing power.

This is not possible with centralized GPUs or even current cloud infrastructure. The Render Network RNDR wants to tackle this issue by creating the world’s largest distributed peer-to-peer network of Graphics Processing Units. Currently in Beta, this is a system built by Otoy on the Ethereum blockchain for the production, distribution and monetization of next-generation holographic media. The company has attracted a range of high profile investors and advisors such as Google/Alphabet Chairman Eric Schmidt, who wrote:

“I predicted that 90% of computing would eventually reside in the web based cloud…Otoy has created a remarkable technology which moves that last 10% — high-end graphics processing — entirely to the cloud. This is a disruptive and important achievement. In my view, it marks the tipping point where the web replaces the PC as the dominant computing platform of the future.”

Once live to the public, anyone with a GPU will be able to sign up and contribute their power to the network, which AR developers can then use to render their latest applications. In return, GPU-owners will earn up to $300 per month worth of Render Tokens that they can redeem for cash or spend to render their own graphics.

As RNDR’s blockchain lead, Kalin Stoyanchev explains:

“Through a peer-to-peer economy which allows anyone to contribute their GPU power to a decentralized network, RNDR achieves orders of magnitude greater scale and more competitive pricing than what centralized GPU cloud providers offer.”

By rewarding users for validated rendering work, RNDR transforms GPU cycles spent on increasingly wasteful Proof-of-Work cryptocurrency mining into more productive high-performance graphics compute. Fully immersive six-degrees-of-freedom Virtual Reality experiences and photorealistic Mixed Reality light field holograms require exponentially more GPU compute power than traditional 2D or 3D media. Through a distributed network of GPUs, RNDR creates a radically more efficient network to meet the emerging needs of the virtual and mixed reality sector — which is projected to become a 692-billion dollar industry by 2025

The key concept behind that is eArtists can contribute their GPUs to the network when they are idle, earning RNDR tokens that can then be redeemed for rendering credits when then need to scale on a deadline or when they need more GPU compute for an intensive VR, MR, 360 render.

As the RNDR Network advances on its roadmap, the system will evolve into a decentralized marketplace for connected 3D assets. Through Ethereum smart contract and distributed ledger blockchain technology tied to an open RNDR SDK, the network will allow users to create, exchange, and distribute 3D objects, environments, and experiences produced on the platform.

Using the RNDR SDK, the network will enable the distribution and monetization of fully immersive, interactive mixed reality and light field media on thin client devices like AR glasses, Light Field displays, and mobile untethered VR headsets.

Render engine OctaneRender was used to create the opening title sequence of HBO’s Westworld at lightning speeds, and is now being integrated with game engine Unity as its cinematic render engine.

The reason why these kind of developments are noteworthy and exciting for those watching the immersive tech space is because, if successfully implemented, they will reduce (and eventually eliminate) the relevance of geographical borders. If developers in Europe or Asia can easily, reliably, cheaply and flexibly access GPU from anywhere in the world, this will in turn mean an exponential growth in the development of compelling content. This, in turn, is also likely to accelerate global consumer adoption of Virtual/Augmented/Mixed reality. Quite appropriate considering how immersive tech is all about blending the digital and physical worlds and breaking down borders.

This article first appeared in Forbes

For companies looking to get into Immersive technologies such as VR/AR/MR/XR our Virtual Reality Consultancy services offer guidance and support on how best to incorporate these into your brand strategy.

Alice Bonasio is a VR and Digital Transformation Consultant and Tech Trends’ Editor in Chief. She also regularly writes for Fast Company, Ars Technica, Quartz, Wired and others. Connect with her on LinkedIn and follow @alicebonasio on Twitter.

Originally published at Tech Trends.

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