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Nvidia CEO: The metaverse will be 'much, much bigger than the physical world'

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The metaverse has seemingly just begun to be built, and one tech industry giant says it will surpass the physical world.

Ever since Facebook renamed itself Meta, talk of the metaverse has been everywhere. But companies like Nvidia have already been working on their own virtual worlds. And founder and CEO Jensen Huang has an expansive vision for the technology, and Nvidia’s place in it.

“It is a 3D extension of the internet that is going to be much, much bigger than the 3D physical world that we enjoy today,” Huang said in an interview with Yahoo Finance Live. Likewise, “the economy of the virtual world will be much, much bigger than the economy of the physical world. You’re going to have more cars built and designed in virtual worlds, you’ll have more buildings, more roads, more houses — more hats, more bags, more jackets.”

To understand what he means, it’s helpful to take a step back.

Yahoo Finance’s Dan Howley has defined the metaverse as “a persistent and virtual world accessible through augmented reality, virtual reality, or even smartphones.” Typically designers also talk about a 3D component. The current manifestations likely most familiar to consumers are video games like “Fortnite,” where players do battle and artists including Ariana Grande have held virtual concerts. People can enter the metaverse using VR headsets to play “Beat Saber,” or by using virtual platforms like Matterport to tour homes on their laptops or phones.

Nvidia’s connection to the metaverse comes through its Omniverse platform, an open-source tool that allows users to build virtual worlds. For now, most of the applications are for businesses. During its conference, the company highlighted the use of digital twins built using Omniverse: Ericsson, for example, is creating virtual versions of cities to figure out how best to lay out its 5G networks.

Huang is particularly excited about the opportunities sparked by the joining of virtualization, artificial intelligence, and robotics. The metaverse will be a place where robots can run through millions of scenarios to learn, then be uploaded into the physical world as a much smarter robot.

“We’ll have millions of robots in the physical world, but we’re going to have billions of robots in the Omniverse worlds, in the virtual worlds. And these billions of robots are learning to be physical robots — you could have a million of them learning how to be one good robot.”

Likewise, another kind of robot, so to speak — autonomous-driving software — could run through millions of driving scenarios in a virtual world to learn how best to react, without the safety risk of learning in the physical world.

While the metaverse is still in its nascent stages, Huang said we’re on the verge of big changes.

“The Omniverse is closer than people think,” he said.

Julie Hyman is the co-anchor of Yahoo Finance Live, weekdays 9am-11am ET. Follow her on Twitter @juleshyman, and read her other stories.

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