A new approach to remote rendering addresses major challenges of augmented and virtual reality.
While immersive technologies are undoubtedly a big driver for digital transformation, the XR community faces major challenges that apply to every player in the field. Many of these challenges can be attributed to the hardware.
The limited computing power of mobile devices such as smartphones, tablets, and smart glasses can be a bottleneck for AR/VR. This is an issue that will remain since there are physical barriers as well as the need to reduce the form factor to further establish immersive technologies.
XR Streaming: How Does It Work
Outsourcing the rendering process to a powerful external server or the cloud will be key to limitless usage of mobile applications in AR and VR. With some remote rendering solutions on the market, it is possible to visualize single high-quality 3D objects on a mobile XR device.
This approach is great for pure visualization. However, in terms of logic, the 3D object is separated from the appt. This makes it more difficult (although not impossible) to have full interaction features and app functionalities.
Another remote rendering approach lies in streaming the entire application with a software development kit for XR streaming. This kind of SDK can be built into any kind of AR/VR application.
Once it is integrated, the app no longer needs to be installed on an end device. Instead, the XR app is installed on a more powerful local server or in the cloud. A corresponding client application runs on the XR device and receives the image stream. The rendering process shifts from the low-performance XR device to the high-performance server. The client app sends data – sensor data for room tracking, gesture input, SLAM – to the server.
After the data is processed on the server, the rendered images are encoded to use less network traffic and sent back to the client app, where they are decoded again. The whole app experience is the same as if the XR app would run locally on the mobile device.
Challenges and Benefits for Developers and End Users
Now, which challenges does XR streaming tackle? And what are the benefits?
Overcoming Low Hardware Performance
Foremost, XR streaming solves the limited computing power of mobile hardware. The rendering of 3D content is usually subject to technical specs (CPU, GPU, RAM) of the XR hardware. Consequently, the quality of 3D models and richness of graphics effects are far below what we are used to from modern PC programs.
Outsourcing the rendering process brings potentially unlimited performance. It enables visualization of high-polygon 3D content as well as GPU-intensive graphics effects.
No More Simplification of Data
Graphics power is crucial for the visualization of 3D models with several million polygons, high graphics, or many components. To run on a mobile XR device, data quality had to be significantly reduced in the past.
With XR streaming, 3D content can now be visualized and manipulated in real time without any simplification of data.
Faster App Development
The variety of XR devices and different tool kits make it difficult for developers to provide their applications on several platforms.
An agnostic approach to XR devices and server infrastructure through XR streaming with deployed client applications reduces the development effort. New apps can be developed simpler and without limits or restrictions by just building a single server application.
Higher Privacy Level
Confidential data or user data is often stored locally on an XR device. This makes it more vulnerable to hacker attacks. And in case the device gets lost or stolen, data security can no longer be guaranteed.
With XR streaming the application can run on an on-premises server or on a cloud infrastructure. The data is no longer stored on the XR device, it is only streamed. A company would have full control over where their sensitive data is located.
Potential Game Changer for the XR Community
Outsourcing the rendering process through XR streaming can be a game changer for the XR community. By rendering any AR or VR application as a whole, XR streaming is able to provide an environment that suits every use case.
The technology enables an unprecedented level of detail and performance for a faster and safer way of developing, experiencing, and interacting with 3D content.