One of these images is a live HD video stream of a power drill in stasis. The other is a photo-realistic 3D model built in Nvidia Iray, a 3D renderer for design professionals. Can you tell which is which?
If you guessed the right image, you'd be wrong. The left image is a faithful recreation of the real model created in Nvidia's next-gen physically-based renderer (PBR) for design professionals.
This was one of the demonstrations from Nvidia's San Jose Campus showroom. There really isn't much to discern between the two models, particularly when staring at them with the naked eye.
Just like a physical object, it can be moved around and viewed at different angles, with "light" bouncing off the surface authentically. This is the platform's main claim to fame: it allows designers to assess how light and materials interact in real time, giving them a virtual prototype of a product that behaves like the real thing.
The benefits of this process are numerous; from trialling different colour schemes and surface materials to assessing how the physical product will look in different lighting conditions.
For example, the photo above is of the same display, but with the Iray render sporting a new white colour scheme. This is something a physical prototype simply cannot do. All told, the colour swap took less than a minute to implement and render. (Remember; this is a 3D model that can be viewed from any angle.)
In addition to the aforementioned benefits, Iray also makes for a fun parlor trick as demonstrated above -- although with Iray VCA solutions starting at $50,000, there's certainly nothing cheap about it. You can find out more about Iray here.
Lifehacker flew to San Jose, California as a guest of Nvidia.