During a demonstration at GTC 2013, NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang highlighted the parallel processing prowess of the NVIDIA GeForce Titan in rendering waves and photorealistic human expressions. This is done in real-time,making it possible to port such renders to a game or CGI-effect in a movie. CEO Huang even commented that NVIDIA's progress in computer graphics, especially in rendering the human face, is now approaching point where the rendered facial graphics is about to cross the "uncanny valley", or the observation that the more photorealistic an animated face gets, the "creepier" and more unacceptable it appears to our human vision. An example of this observation is seen the below slide where the Tintin animation movie is one of the most accepted in recent times for its animation value to mimic real-life characters, but popular video game character Lora Craft in the later releases of the game does not bode well in terms of her character representation to her pseudo real-life appearance.
He also showcased the real-time rendering of a boat sailing in the ocean as he turned up the Beaufort scale to mimic the worsening ocean conditions. Such a simulation involved a huge amount of compute power as it involve fluid dynamics as the sea's condition changed, drastically altering the fluid's interaction with itself as well as the boat too.
Mr. Huang also took the chance to highlight the rapid growth of GPU computing that encompasses hardware, software and the knowledge propagation necessary to generate a strong user base to support its explosive growth. In summary, NVIDIA's vision of GP-GPU computing is a technology that is pushing the boundaries of our mediated reality, driven by its rapid and organic growth. However, the folks from Boeing have a different perspective from that of NVIDIA's. According to their observations, it takes a long time for state-of-the-art in aerospace and computing technology to become widespread. We believe this is true for certain complex industries, so read on as we attempt to view computer graphics and its visualization from the lens of this aerospace giant.
Boeing's involvement in computer graphics and its visualization dated as early as 1960 when its researchers coined the term computer graphics. Its long involvement in this field confers the company the prestige of being an authority in this technology. From their observations, they concluded the adoption of computer graphics technology from the aerospace industry has been slow despite its usefulness.
The researchers also shared that photorealism visualization is not useful in certain aspects of their business as such a deluge of details will confuse their users. The single-hue render, as shown below, allows the respective engineers to view and understand the state and condition of the aircraft's components at a glance. Their requirements for computer graphics visualization involves non-geometric data analysis. They apply such technology to analyze such data and render it to have a better understanding of any design problems. They have also applied data visualization techniques in an attempt to uncover possible solutions to damaging collisions with migratory birds, by identifying time and seasonal patterns of such incidents.
Boeing's computer graphics expertise is also applied to manufacturing workflows, identifying areas of hazard that will potentially cause work injuries that will affect the workers' productivity.
The researcher shared Boeing's view on the next trend of computer graphics that will be driven by 4K video displays, which will drive the need for high-resolution content. However, due to diversity of devices that workers prefer to work with, it is hard to nail down one that will serve the needs for all. Despite the advent of 3D graphics, Boeing believes in the support for both 2D and 3D graphics visualization due to legacy needs of their large inventory of different equipment.
Summing up this mini feature article, not all industries or work flows require computer graphics to be photorealistic and we've had the chance to hear from two major players with very different take and strokes on GP-GPU computing. As a new player in the field, NVIDIA has actively pushed its CUDA framework as well as its hardware and services to ensure the acceptance and growth of its computer graphics solutions. Boeing however focuses on internal growth as a whole by leveraging on the advantages of graphics rendering for its targeted and extremely specific implementations that are very often in-house applications and solutions.