NVIDIA is expanding its VRWorks platform with two new SDKs (software development kits) unveiled and released earlier this week at the GPU Technology Conference (GTC) in California, namely the VRWorks Audio SDK and VRWorks 360 Video SDK. The former provides real-time ray tracing of audio in virtual environments, while the latter allows developers to create, stitch, and stream real-time 360 videos in 4K resolution.
Virtual Reality is an entertainment medium that heavily relies on stimulating visual senses but audio quality is also an important factor contributing to an immersive VR experience. While 3D audio in VR can already accurately represent a sound source within a virtual space, NVIDIA's new technology aims to make audio in VR react to the environment. Through NVIDIA's OptiX ray-tracing technology, VRWorks Audio can simulate a variety of sound propagation phenomena including refraction, reflection, and diffraction, and can trace sound paths in real time while accounting for the environment's shape, size, and materials. Furthermore, because this is a hardware-accelerated path-traced audio solution, NVIDIA claims that it doesn't require any "pre-baked" knowledge of the environment, and instead, the acoustic model is created and updated on the fly as every scene is rendered by the application. Lastly, while the VRWorks Audio SDK is supported by Epic's Unreal Engine 4, NVIDIA says that the SDK also includes a set of C-APIs allowing developers to integrate the technology into any engine or application.
Apart from launching the first public beta of VRWorks 360 Video SDK, the company also demoed a future VRWorks 360 Video SDK release capable of stitching video from eight 4K cameras in stereo using two Quadro P6000 graphics cards and the Z CAM V1 PRO VR camera system. Adding to the official press release, Z CAM CEO, Kinson Loo, said that NVIDIA's ability to stitch this type of videos in real-time "changes the production pipeline and enables entirely new use cases in VR." The VRWorks 360 Video SDK for mono is currently available for download on NVIDIA's developer website, whereas the VRWorks 360 Video SDK for stereo will be launched at a later date, the company said, without providing an estimated release window for the kit.