During GTC 2015, we were shown a demo of Iray 2015 — Nvidia's next-gen physically-based renderer (PBR) for design professionals. The platform's main claim to fame is its ability to calculate how light and materials interact in real time. While chiefly aimed at industries that deal in plastics and metals, the same process could just as easily be applied to mass-produced foods. Could the world's first perfectly designed burger soon be upon us? We asked Nvidia to expand on this salivating thought.
Burger picture from Shutterstock
Nvidia Iray's new PBR portfolio is a pretty big deal for design boffins. In short, it allows designers to manipulate 3D virtual models of prototype products as if they were really there.
The benefits of this process are numerous; from trialling different colour schemes or material types to assessing how the physical product will look in different lighting conditions. In addition, it allows for high-speed rendering in professional graphics applications so that designers can quickly trial different models and iterations on the fly.
The ability to render accurate and predictable results translates to superior products with deeper layers of design. Every permutation can be accounted for to ensure a perfect result; be it an aesthetically pleasing label colour or optimally sized bolts in a car.
Because I'm a fast food junkie, my thoughts naturally turned to how this technology could be applied to McDonald's and its greasy ilk. Forget about durable, super-shiny smartphones — I just want a tastier looking burger!
I posed this question to Nvidia's Sandeep Gupte during the PBR debriefing. Here's what he had to say on the topic:
Wow, that's interesting. I think there's definitely an application there, particularly for the food packaging industry. It's something I'd actually like to brainstorm with them. With food, it's all about the aesthetics. From a packaging standpoint, you could really assess how the product looks in different lighting conditions, be it inside, outside or geographic location depending on the orientation of the sun. I think these industries will benefit phenomenally. When they mass produce a certain type of packaging they will be able to ensure it looks consistent in different parts of the world even if different materials are being used. Anytime there's a design where you care about how it's going to look in real life, this technology will help you. You will be much more sure of your design and have a true visualisation instead of just guessing.
Another way of looking at PBR is that it takes most of the "art" and guesswork out of product design and replaces it with hard science. We suggested this could have a profound effect on truth in advertising — after all, it's harder to get away with artistic licence when you can render an exact representation of reality. Gupte was of two minds about this.
"If you look at commercials today, you'll see the Lexus car driving through the mountains, but a lot of what you are seeing is touched up by artists to make it look beautiful," he said. "That might be harder to justify that when you are using this technology.
"On the other hand, I think it will help artists too. Instead of building images from scratch, they can just use physically-based rendering. If the designer wants a different look or feel, he can just move a [virtual] light three feet over to see what happens. So I think everybody will start to utilise this technology as it makes the whole design process so much easier. Eventually the touching up won't be necessary."
Chris Jager travelled to GTC 2015 in San Jose, California as a guest of Nvidia.