At its 2020 GPU Technology Conference, NVIDIA (NVDA 1.87%) announced that Omniverse, a new platform built on its hardware, was opening for beta testing.

And CEO Jensen Huang announced at this year's conference that Omniverse will become a new enterprise service available this summer. Built as a collaborative virtual world for engineers and developers, this new service will build on NVIDIA's work outside of the video game industry and could unlock new practical capabilities for its users.  

A better real world, built in a virtual one

The idea of an omniverse (a virtual reality created by software developers, or a "virtual twin" of the real world) has been around for a while. The concept was portrayed in the movie adaptation of Ready Player One. Some early users of NVIDIA Omniverse include video game studio Activision Blizzard and Industrial Light and Magic, a unit of Lucasfilm and part of Disney's entertainment empire.

But this idea of a digital world in which participants can meet, interact, and play together extends well beyond just video games.

A worker in a manufacturing facility holding a tablet.

Image source: Getty Images.

Omniverse was created as a collaborative space for engineers to build virtual environments and is being used to recreate and manage the physical world.

Huang said that engineering software firm Bentley Systems (BSY 1.08%) has been using Omniverse to build digital twins of projects post-construction to monitor and maintain buildings. Bentley is the first third-party partner building new applications based on the NVIDIA Omniverse platform. It will use these virtual re-creations to optimize a building's operations and maintenance for the lifetime of its use. 

Applications extend beyond inanimate structures, too. Automaker BMW (BAMXF 1.08%) is using Omniverse to virtually recreate its factories. From there, a simulation of factory operations and its workers can be run to improve workflow, change over manufacturing lines for production of a new vehicle, and calibrate equipment using worker data input. Omniverse can also be used to engineer the construction of future factories as well. 

For NVIDIA, the release of Omniverse this summer for widespread enterprise use will help further the company's aspirations beyond its video game roots -- not to mention open the door to a cloud computing software business built on its hardware tech. In a new era of remote work and a blurring of lines between the physical and digital world, NVIDIA is emerging as a powerhouse of innovation.