Game engines are helping businesses create fun, immersive 3D experiences that can be shared globally with consumers. These technologies have several applications, but we’re only just beginning to scratch the surface of all the exciting, life-altering possibilities that are on the horizon.
Developments in cloud gaming today are building critical infrastructure that’s benefiting enterprises now and will continue expanding into the future. This occurs at several levels. In addition to driving increased capabilities in the WebRTC standard that underpins browser-based pixel streaming, cloud gaming technology also drives increased availability of cloud GPUs, more options for types of GPUs, and more sophisticated virtual configurations.
Some of those innovations have already begun to arrive, and many more are on the way. In the next few years, we can expect to see enterprises turning to 3D gaming engines to power these five areas of development:
Five areas of development
1. Configurators: Game engines offer photorealistic 3D imaging, dynamic lighting, physics models, and more, resulting in product configurators that provide a depth of information that far surpasses 2D demos or text. These engines also offer users the ability to easily import CAD files in far more detail than WebGL-based simulations.
Applications for this technology extend to any high-value product with significant engineering, and manufacturers will need to move beyond surface-level models to explore the full potential of these gaming engines. Consider a company that manufactures mining equipment. Instead of just displaying imagery of an excavator next to the relevant technical details of the machine, a 3D game engine could offer simulations of the excavator’s effectiveness against different types of ore, capturing detail down to the smallest nuts and bolts.
Ultimately, manufacturers need to move beyond thinking about simulations that just show somewhat better surface models and explore the full potential of these powerful engines. It's possible to capture microscopic details, or to run the machine itself within the simulation. From there, physics engines can model the product in a real-world setting using imported data for the setting and physics engines to simulate behaviours.
Photorealistic, interactive 3D configurators are also perfect for the marketing of expensive lifestyle items — such as cars, homes, and boats — in which users can design their goods and interact with them before finalising the purchase. Just imagine taking a newly designed car for a virtual test drive.
2. Trainers: Simulated trainers aren’t just more engaging than text; they’re a more practical way to teach. These training simulations allow students to learn how to use expensive equipment or push simulators to dangerous failure limits without the unacceptable level of risk.
Simulations involving operations of chemical, nuclear, or petroleum plants allow teams to practice performing vital emergency roles. As a result, teams can ensure a smooth, effective response should those emergencies occur in real life.
Enterprises looking to take advantage of this technology should start by converting their paper and video training assets into gamified solutions. This goes beyond just importing such information in a simulation. The real value will be delivered when the simulation also models scores from game behaviours that map to optimal behaviours in the training scenario.
3. Planning Processes: Public consultation processes need to move beyond the scale-model-in-a-mall that’s been the status quo for years. By simulating redevelopments using a game engine, government entities will provide the public with a much better understanding of the new space. The audience will get more informed and active participation will increase when compared to traditional feedback forms.
Plus, streaming this information in the cloud will allow members of the public to provide input from the comfort of their homes. For a proposed plan in a civic space, users could compare a photorealistic 3D model of the existing area with a sophisticated rendering of the proposal. The inclusion of data — such as river levels, sun exposure, and other information — can help produce an incredibly realistic simulation and would create reusable digital assets that provide long-term value.
4. Digital Assets: Real-world simulations using game engines are still in their earliest stages. Although CAD imports are beginning to help jump-start the process, most simulations are built from the ground up. As the use of simulations gains traction, the demand for reusable simulation elements will increase. This practice is already occurring, albeit on a much smaller scale: A model of a Bugatti car that was created for a marketing campaign was later repurchased for use in a video game.
With the proper leverage of blockchain and smart contracts, companies can begin to convert their existing virtual reality assets into the construction materials that come together to build a larger simulation. This could take the form of a virtual mall that users could walk through, complete with potential tenants displaying assets inside of the digital storefronts.
5. The Metaverse: The Metaverse is a concept from ’90s science fiction that envisions a real-time interactive 3D medium where people can securely interact, create digital assets, move seamlessly between simulations, and exchange physical and virtual assets.
The Metaverse can be thought of as a successor to the hypertext-based World Wide Web. The OASIS from the movie “Ready Player One” is something like this — except that it models a fantasy world and has an interface (immersive VR with tactile feedback) that doesn’t yet exist. While the Metaverse remains confined to science fiction (for now), each step mentioned above takes us incrementally closer to this simulated reality.
An example of a fully functioning Metaverse could be the creation of a public consultation simulation (planning processes) that teaches people how to use the system, allows them to suggest modifications or explore different versions of a plan (configurator), and then resells simulations (training) to commercial entities that make use of the redeveloped public space (digital assets).
It might sound far-fetched, but we’re, at the very least, headed in that direction. Internet protocols have evolved from text (email) to hypertext (the web) and are now heading to immersive 3D experiences for consumers. As progress continues, forward-looking enterprises will further explore these applications and create immersive, engaging online experiences for buyers that won't soon be forgotten.
James Henry, executive, Pureweb