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From Gaming to Industry: The Transformative Impact of Real-time 3D

Real-time 3D promises to be the next big disruptor on mobile, not just for gaming but also transforming different industries. Arm's Paul Williamson explains why.
By Paul Williamson, SVP and GM of the IoT LoB, Arm

Real-time 3D content is the next evolution of visual experiences on our mobile devices. Not just for entertainment and gaming, but across many different industries and use cases where we’re already seeing real-time 3D techniques that originated from game development being used in automotive, healthcare, industrial, construction, navigation, and beyond.  

Arm is not alone when talking about the transformational impact of real-time 3D. Unity, who’s platform is used by 70 percent of the world’s mobile game developers, also share this belief.

“Real-time 3D will be a real agent of change. It will be the biggest technology development that blurs industries. Techniques tried and tested in gaming will be carried over across industrial, training and retail environments.”

Alex McLean, VP of Engineering at Unity Technologies

It starts with gaming

When discussing real-time 3D content, the best place to start is gaming. Game developers are now bringing complex 3D gaming content that would only be previously possible on PC and console to mobile devices. This is largely due to two reasons: firstly, advanced engineering and developer capabilities; and, secondly, advanced and higher performing mobile computing.

As part of the Arm Total Compute Solutions launch, I was hugely privileged to speak with John Romero, the “godfather of gaming” and creator of Doom and Quake. He spoke to me about the early challenges of creating the most basic 3D gaming experiences on PC. However, ten years later, they are not only commonplace on these devices, but also almost lifelike in reality. This progress was not an easy task, but the results have been astounding.

Mobile gaming

Mobile gaming – a massive $103.5 billion industry that now exceeds the combined console and PC gaming market size – is helping drive the evolution of real-time 3D technology. For game developers on mobile, 3D gaming content has previously seemed slightly niche, but it is now emerging as a driving proposition on today’s modern smartphones. Leading AAA gaming titles like Call of Duty, Fortnite or Genshin Impact are all now on mobile, whereas previously this would have been the reserve of the PC and console markets. The underlying compute and graphics capability of mobile devices is advancing to a point that means these experiences will be even more immersive through real-time 3D.

This pivot to more visually immersive real-time 3D mobile gaming content was at the heart of the Immortalis GPU launch. Bringing ray tracing and variable rate shading through this brand-new flagship Arm GPU will deliver more realistic mobile real-time 3D experiences on the next-generation of smartphones. For the Arm gaming ecosystem, this puts the right resources and technologies in place to allow developers to innovate with real-time 3D content.

Introducing Arm Immortalis

Beyond gaming

However, real-time 3D is not just about gaming. It’s creating brand-new possibilities on mobile, now and in the future. Even as a seasoned traveller, I felt slightly lost and vulnerable on a recent business trip abroad when I left my hotel looking for food. However, thanks to mapping on my smartphone – which had 3D directions with real lighting effects overlaid onto the world around me – I felt secure, safe and, more importantly, not lost.

The construction sector is also utilizing real-time 3D content, with architects using 3D graphics to more realistically show how their architectural models would look in real-life. Apart from looking really cool, having the construction envisioned in real-time 3D at the architectural stage will save time and money through identifying any issues early in the process.

Looking to the future, expect real-time 3D to enable virtual experiences that blur the lines between digital and physical worlds. People could join sporting and music events virtually from the comfort of their own home via virtual reality (VR) headsets. Work and personal virtual meet-ups could also be more common.

There are some examples of this happening now. Epic Games, creators of Fortnite, held virtual concerts and performances from Travis Scott and Ariana Grande; meanwhile, VR platform Rec Room has created an online universe for virtual meetups and collaborations for work and play.

The role of the metaverse

At the center of the real-time 3D future is the metaverse, which, according to a recent McKinsey report, has a market potential of $5 trillion. The metaverse will revolutionize how people design, build and experience everything in their digital lives. In these digital worlds, humans will be able to interact, transact and collaborate in ways that are indistinguishable from reality across many different industries and areas of life.

VR experience on a headset device

These new visual experiences in the metaverse will require huge leaps in performance across notable consumer devices – smartphones, VR headsets and even future AR smartglasses. All this performance then needs to be delivered efficiently in portable device form factors that are as lightweight and comfortable as possible. Arm has already committed to being the ‘gateway to the metaverse’ due to our heritage of high-performance and low power computing.

The consumer tech disruptor

Real-time 3D is going to the next big disruptor in consumer tech. Creating transformative visual experiences requires us to meet a series of engineering and technological challenges within the Arm ecosystem. Working with our partners, our goal is to equip creators and developers with the tools and technology to create stunning, new real-time 3D content and experiences on mobile devices. That’s why we have created the new Immortalis GPU and continue our collaboration with Unity to unlock the potential for creators.

When you look back at the emergence of 3D gaming on the PC, it was hard work but in less than five years we transitioned from Doom to the 3D navigation of Quake. During the ten years that followed, 3D gaming became universal. We know that the rate of development in mobile real-time 3D will be much faster. It’s inevitable and thanks to Arm technologies, like Immortalis, when it happens, the results will be transformative, visually stunning and built on Arm.

The best experiences live forever on Immortalis

As a key component of Arm’s second-generation Total Compute Solutions (TCS22), Immortalis-G715, Arm’s new flagship GPU, is designed to provide ultimate gaming experiences on next-generation flagship smartphones.

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Brian Fuller and Jack Melling
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