Nvidia CES 2017 Keynote: Google Home AI, Cloud Gaming Service, AI Co-Pilot For Your Car – Forbes
Nvidia had a huge 2016 with one of best performing stocks of the year. In the past 12 months, the graphics processing chipmaker’s stock value has boomed 230%. This is mostly due to its impressive growth in artificial intelligence applications using its graphics processors in data centers and cars. Meanwhile, Nvidia maintains a fast-growing business in its core gaming market.
Partially as a reflection of the growing importance of AI in the tech industry, Nvidia stole the opening Consumer Electronics Show keynote this year from Intel. At the Las Vegas keynote on Wednesday, Nvidia CEO and co-founder Jen-Hsun Huang (clad in his trademark black leather jacket) sought to maintain the company’s leadership in those three areas: AI, autonomous cars and video games.
The first piece of news is a cloud service that enables games to run in the cloud instead of locally on a computer. Called GeForce Now, the service is intended to reach people who want to play the latest PC gamers but who don’t have the time, money or inclination to build their own PCs. The service is supposed to give users on low-end PCs or even Macs access to high-end PC games with the latest graphics.
“We estimate that there are a billion users with Macs or older PCs who would love to enjoy games but don’t have the capability,” said Huang. “We thought wouldn’t it be amazing to put something like Amazon Web Services does for businesses and do it for the consumers. “
GeForce Now can run games through a gaming distribution service like Steam and then users can start playing the game like they normally would. But instead of having to download gigantic multi-gigabit files, Huang said it will only a minute to buy a game and start playing it through the service. As well, the game stays constantly updated to the latest version in Nvidia’s servers, so users don’t have to spend time updating the software either.
The pricing scheme for GeForce Now comes in at $25 for 20 hours of gaming. A fast and reliable internet connection is obviously a must.
Next, Nvidia announced it’s getting into the AI home voice assistant craze that was kickstarted by the Amazon Echo, the smart speaker that’s powered by an intelligent voice assistant dubbed Alexa. Nvidia’s upcoming streaming media device, Shield, will be one of the first outside hardware makers to come with Google Assistant, the search engine giant’s new AI assistant. To date, Google’s voice assistant has only existed in the company’s own hardware — the Google Home smart speakers and the Pixel smartphone.
“Our house is going to become an AI,” said Huang. “Jarvis is going to be realized. Mark Zuckerberg built his own Jarvis for his home, but I decided we should build it for all of you.”
Nvidia is also launching a Shield peripheral device called Nvidia Spot. It’s a microphone that users can place anywhere in the house, so they can talk to the Google Assistant anywhere they want. Huang said the Spot’s microphone is able to process audio from a distance of 20 feet and has echo cancellation. The Spot microphone connects back to the Shield through the WiFi network.
Lastly, Nvidia is pushing forward with some novel technology for the nascent autonomous car field. Nvidia’s self-driving car system, the Drive PX, will now not only try to understand the environment around the car, but it will also use AI to understand what’s going on in the interior of the vehicle. Nvidia-powered cars will be able to watch which direction the driver’s head is turned, where their eyes are gazing and read their lips so the car’s AI can understand instructions even if there’s loud music playing. Huang said the car’s AI will be able to understand if the driver is angry and tell the them to pull over to the side of the road if it doesn’t look like they’re prepared to drive.
Nvidia is calling this new capability the AI Co-Pilot. It is intended to assist the driver when the car’s AI system isn’t ready to drive itself because, for example, there are too many pedestrians on the road or the road hasn’t been mapped yet.