At the Autodesk University Conference, HP unveiled its Opera Glass, a headset designed for what HP and similar vendors term “VR snacking.” The headset is intended for engineers who want to design in 3D CAD design, then quickly view that model in virtual reality. In other word,s the engineer who wants to switch quickly, and often, between CAD and virtual reality.
The glasses are intended for quick VR immersion.
According to a HP Labs statement, Opera Glass will enable its wearers to quickly and easily switch between primary display and VR headset while seated or standing at a desk.
Switching to a VR application disrupts the workflow because the designer must put on all the gear and move to the dedicated VR space. With the HP concept glasses, the designer could look at the design in the VR view, HP says. The glasses are are attached to a stick near the designer’s computer monitor, so users can bring it to their eyes and look through it quickly.
For example, say a designer is at work on a concept for a new chair. Based on the model, the designer drafts the chair in 3D CAD, but he or she isn’t sure if it makes sense at scale. VR would allow the designer to view the chair model at the right proportions. The chair would be virtually presented at full scale
The designer would return to 3D CAD and modify the design based on its VR image.
In other words, with the glasses, the designer can quickly switch from 3D CAD to VR without getting up or gearing up. That’s the idea of VR snacking; taking a little bite of virtual reality for design purposes, says HP Labs, the exploratory research and development wing of HP.
HP already has a number of headsets intended for mixed reality—when a design appears to be floating or present in the room, like the Pokemon Go game popular a few years back. Other companies also make these mixed reality headsets, including the Samsun Odyssey and the Acer from Microsoft.
The Opera Glass will be designed to be lighter than these—thus the quick setup time and the name: just like slipping on a pair of glasses. It would also immerse users in a virtual environment rather than bring a virtual environment to their existing surroundings. It’s also to intended specifically to smooth the transition from computer monitor to VR headset.
The glasses themselves actually resemble VR googles more than eyeglasses or opera glasses, and they’re perched stop a desk stand rather than a stick you’d use to raise opera glasses to your eyes. But the goal is the same as the those who want to see the opera close up. Raise your glasses to get a better (or in this case) VR view.
Again, the glasses are still in the proof-of-concept stage. Engineers have a while to wait until “VR snacking” will become part of their workflow. The working prototype was on display at Autodesk University held last week in Las Vegas.
But the signs are heading toward a series of hardware applications like this that will help the engineer toggle between VR and CAD much the same way they now move from their design to their PLM system or another application, with only a few mouse clicks and without much thought.