Read Part 1, of “Keeping IT Real: Unleashing Virtual Reality Within the Enterprise” here.
In a recent blog post, I explained how the mission of Citrix is to power a world in which people, organizations and things are connected and accessible to make the extraordinary possible. And I explored the rapidly evolving concepts of Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR) and Mixed Reality (MR); viewed from the perspective of the promise we see in these innovations to transform the way people live and work.
True to our mission and to our culture of curiosity, we’ve taken a long, hard look at VR, assessed where we can add significant value to our customers, and begun to work on creating an amazing experience.
Allow me to introduce you the prototype of V2R or, to give it’s full name, Virtualized Virtual Reality.
At the core of the idea, V2R recognized the current challenges (as mentioned earlier) with current VR solutions – namely the requirement for high powered PC’s, tethered connections to the HMD and general complexity of set up and configuration. As all good engineers do, our HDX & Receiver team in the UK asked the question “Is there a better way?” … and what they came up with is absolutely astounding.
V2R allows a VR HMD user (in the case of the prototype, an HTC Vive) to become mobile by untethering them from the desktop PC while delivering an unmatched HDX 3D experience to allow the VR application to be run remotely with near-native performance. This solution leverages the best of Citrix technology—based on our philosophy of “better together”—to provide a unique solution for delivering next-generation VR.
The prototype allows an Intel i5 NUC, running Linux and the Citrix Receiver for Linux to be packed neatly into a standard size backpack and powered by external batteries. The HTC Vive is then connected to the NUC and Receiver for Linux is used to connect to a Windows 10 Virtual Desktop (HDX 3D Pro VDA) that leverages an NVIDIA M60 vGPU and Citrix XenServer 7 to provide the 3D graphics capability via HDX.
Sounds too good to be true – right? But it’s not! Let’s take a deeper dive.
First, the image below identifies the enabling hardware components for the prototype.
Second, the “block diagram” below shows the Citrix products that come together with the Dell, Intel, and NVIDIA hardware to power the V2R solution.
Third, all we need is a trusting and willing CTO to be the tester. ::GULP::
To provide an even better explanation—and a sneak peek into what the experience “feels like”—check out the following video:
To clarify, let me explain in a few words, what exactly was going on in the video.
- “Destinations” is a Valve SteamVR Room-Scale VR application. Room-Scale simply means that you can walk around in it.
- “Destinations” (along with SteamVR) was running on a Windows 10 Virtual Desktop with Citrix XenDesktop HDX 3D Pro.
- The VR imagery on the Windows 10 Virtual Desktop was being rendered on an NVIDIA GRID M60 vGPU.
- The Windows 10 Virtual Desktop was running on a Dell r730 server running the Citrix XenServer 7 hypervisor, located in a small data center located in the same office as the demo was filmed.
- The standard-size backpack contained an off-the-shelf Intel Core i5 NUC running Ubuntu 16.04.1, as well as the Citrix Receiver for Linux.
- The HTC Vive HMD was physically attached to the Intel Core i5 NUC, which was providing the display for the Citrix XenDesktop session.
- The HTC Vive’s USB connector was also connected to the Intel Core i5 NUC and both the devices were connected up to a small portable battery pack.
- Citrix Receiver for Linux on the Intel Core i5 NUC connected, via standard 802.11 WiFi, across the network to the local data center where the Windows 10 Virtual Desktop with Citrix XenDesktop HDX 3D Pro running the VR application was located.
- Citrix HDX Generic USB redirection made the HTC Vive’s USB devices available in the virtual desktop session – these devices were tracking head position, location in the room and position/inputs from the HTC Vive’s wireless controllers. These inputs were being fed into “Destinations”, which was rendering screen updates on the NVIDIA GRID M60 vGPU.
- Citrix HDX Thinwire with hardware-accelerated H.264 encoding was sending the screen updates back from the Citrix XenDesktop session to the Citrix Receiver for Linux on the Intel Core i5 NUC where they were and displayed on the HTC Vive’s 2160×1200 HMD in real-time.
The V2R innovation is yet another stellar example of our commitment to providing the best user experience for securely delivering apps & data to any device.
The impact of VR, led by the influx of consumer-grade devices to the market, is almost certain to have a similar trajectory to that of the smartphone and tablet, just a few short years ago. I believe there will be a profound effect on many organizations as they look to VR, AR, and MR to improve productivity as part of their individual digital transformation strategies.
It only remains for me to give a huge thanks to the UK HDX & Receiver Team – Joanna Farley, Andy Woodard, Muhammad Dawood, Ben Waine & James Cole – we’re only just getting started !
Stay tuned for further updates on V2R, along with future posts that provide details of our prototype work in both AR & MR.
The future is here and things are about to get REAL.