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Category: VR Demo

AI is the heartbeat of CES 2019

This year’s CES features a familiar cast of characters: gigantic, super-thin 8K screens; plenty of signage promising the arrival of 5G; robots of all shapes, sizes, and levels of competency; and acres of personal grooming products that you can pair with your phone. In all seriousness, however, one main question keeps coming to mind as I walk the floor: Are we approaching the tipping point where AI truly starts to affect most people in meaningful ways on a daily basis? I think we’re still a couple of years away from ubiquitous AI, but it’s the heartbeat of this year’s show, and it’s going play a part in almost everything we do in the very near future. AI applications at this year’s show include manufacturing, transportation, energy, medicine, education, photography, communications, farming, grocery shopping, fitness, sports, defense, and entertainment, just to name a few. The AI revolution is just starting, but once it gets going, AI will continually reshape society for decades to come. This year’s show reinforces our decision to explore the roles that the XPRTs, beginning with AIXPRT, can play in the AI revolution.

Now for the fun stuff. Here’s a peek at a couple of my favorite displays so far. As is often the case, the most awe-inducing displays at CES are those that overwhelm attendees with light and sound. LG’s enormous curved OLED wall, dubbed the Massive Curve of Nature, was truly something to behold.

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Another big draw has been Bell’s Nexus prototype, a hybrid-electric VTOL (vertical takeoff and landing) air taxi. Some journalists can’t resist calling it a flying car, but I refuse to do so, because it has nothing in common with cars apart from the fact that people sit in it and use it to travel from place to place. As Elon Musk once said of an earlier, but similar, concept, “it’s just a helicopter in helicopter’s clothing.” Semantics aside, it’s intriguing to imagine urban environments full of nimble aircraft that are quieter, easier to fly, and more energy efficient than traditional helicopters, especially if they’re paired with autonomous driving technologies.

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Finally, quite a few companies are displaying props that put some of the “reality” back into “virtual reality.” Driving and flight simulators with full range of motion that are small enough to fit in someone’s basement or game room, full-body VR suits that control your temperature and deliver electrical stimulus based on game play (yikes!), and portable roller-coaster-like VR rides were just a few of the attractions.

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It’s been a fascinating show so far!

Justin

XPRT collaborations: North Carolina State University

For those of us who work on the BenchmarkXPRT tools, a core goal is involving new contributors and interested parties in the benchmark development process. Adding voices to the discussion fosters the collaboration and innovation that lead to powerful benchmark tools with lasting relevance.

One vehicle for outreach that we especially enjoy is sponsoring a student project through North Carolina State University. Each semester, the Senior Design Center in the university’s Department of Computer Science partners with external companies and organizations to provide student teams with an opportunity to work on real-world programming projects. If you’ve followed the XPRTs for a while, you may remember previous student projects such as Nebula Wolf, a mini-game that shows how well different devices handle games, and VR Demo, a virtual reality prototype workload based on a room escape scenario.

This fall, a team of NC State students is developing a software console for automating machine learning tests. Ideally, the tool will let future testers specify custom workload combinations, compute a performance metric, and upload results to our database. The project will also assess the impact of the framework on performance scores. In fact, the console will perform many of the same functions we plan to implement with AIXPRT.

The students have worked very hard on the project, and have learned quite a bit about benchmarking practices and several new software tools. The project will wrap up in the next couple of weeks, and we’ll share additional details as soon as possible. Early next year, we’ll publish a video about the experience.

If you’d like to join the NC State students and hundreds of other XPRT community members in the future of benchmark development, please let us know!

Justin

VR and AR at Mobile World Congress 2017

Spotting the virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) demos at the recent Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona was easy: all you had to do was look for the long queues of people waiting to put on a headset and see another world. Though the demos ranged from games to simulated roller-coaster rides to simple how-to tools, the interest of the crowd was always high. A lot of the attraction was clearly due to the tools’ relative novelty, but many people seemed focused on using the technologies to create commercially viable products.

Both VR and AR involve a great deal of graphics and data movement, so they can be quite computationally demanding. Right now, that’s not a problem, because most applications and demos are hooked directly to powerful computers. As these technologies become more pervasive, however, they’re going to find their way into our devices, which will almost certainly do some of the processing even as the bulk of the work happens on servers in the cloud. The better the AR and VR experiences our devices can support, the happier we’re likely to be with those technologies.

Along with the crowds at MWC, many of us in the BenchmarkXPRT Development Community are enthusiastic about VR and AR, which is why we’ve been monitoring these fields for some time. We’ve even worked with a group of NC State University students to produce a sample VR workload. If you have thoughts on how we might best support VR and AR, please contact us. Meanwhile, we’ll continue to track both closely and work to get the XPRTs ready to measure how well devices handle these technologies.

Mark

A new reality

A while back, I wrote about a VR demo built by students from North Carolina State University. We’ve been checking it out over the last couple of months and are very impressed. This workload will definitely heat up your device! While the initial results look promising, this is still an experimental workload and it’s too early to use results in formal reviews or product comparisons.

We’ve created a page that tells all about the VR demo. As an experimental workload, the demo is available only to community members. As always, members can download the source as well as the APK.

We asked the students to try to build the workload for iOS as a stretch goal. They successfully built an iOS version, but this was at the end of the semester and there was little time for testing. If you want to experiment with iOS yourself, look at the build instructions for Android and iOS that we include with the source. Note that you will need Xcode to build and deploy the demo on iOS.

After you’ve checked out the workload, let us know what you think!

Finally, we have a new video featuring the VR demo. Enjoy!

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Eric

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