CES 2014: NVIDIA Uses Iray to Configure Cars Like Never Before

Posted on January 6, 2014 1:20 PM by Rob Williams

Since at least the launch of its GeForce GTX 400 series, NVIDIA has talked about a tool that auto dealerships could implement into their routine that would greatly enhance the buying experience of the customer. At CES 2014, it demoed it best implementation to date.

Much of the talk during Jen-Hsun Huang’s presentation was about photo-realism, and that has always been the number one goal for a tool like this. For that reason, it makes major use of ray tracing, which means once a change is applied, the result will take a minute or so to render. In fact, in this particular example, the actual rendering was being done via a supercomputer in California.

As the below shot shows, this particular version of the tool would be best-suited for a Maserati dealership. The chrome look is Jen-Hsun’s nod to a popstar with the most interesting fashion sense, Justin Bieber.

NVIDIA Iray Maserati Configurator

As this demo uses NVIDIA’s own Iray renderer to do its thing, it looks like a development tool. In actual use, a custom GUI would undoubtedly be built around it, so as to look more attractive for the customer (looking at such a screen when buying a multi hundred thousand dollar vehicle might be a little off-putting to some).

During the demo, different materials and colors were applied to the vehicle, and all appeared realistic. Each time the vehicle view was changed, it’d take about half a minute for the new render to complete, which is to be expected when this level of ray tracing is involved. In the real world, we’d expect that a luxury dealership would have a PC with multiple workstation cards sitting under the desk, or even a little server cluster sitting out back.

What impressed most about this demo is just how realistic all of the materials looked. In the shot below, you can see jade, rubber, gold, silver, copper, glass, ceramic, and more. Again, as the camera angle changed, the render had to re-run, but once finished, the materials looked fantastic.

NVIDIA Iray Materials Editor

After changing the car’s color and changing to a sexier view, here’s the end result of this Maserati:

NVIDIA Iray Maserati

NVIDIA didn’t mention when we’d begin to see tools like this in use, but there’s really no reason it couldn’t be soon. While a lot of computing horsepower is required to complete a render in about a minute or more, the cost of building servers around that might be a non-issue to a luxury dealership. One thing’s for sure: It’s a lot more feasible to see this tool in use today than when NVIDIA first talked about it years ago.

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