Without officially dating myself, I can say that I’ve been researching and writing about virtual reality (VR) technology since its inception. We all wrote about the exciting predictions about how the technology would revolutionize the way product designers created new products.
Imagine designing a product within that product’s environment? No interface between input device and the product model. Seemed too good to be true and it was to a large extent just that. Yes, immersive technologies have rocked the video gamer’s world, enabling players to full immerse themselves in virtual environments that are so close to reality that they can be overwhelming to some.
Back to the real (design) world, however, and the promise hasn’t quite been realized. In architecture, virtual environments have had an impact, enabling prospective home owners to do virtual walk throughs of homes long before construction is started. Or enable architects to walk through and visualize the impact of various criteria on their designs.
In product design, however, multiple ancillary technologies have split off from the broader virtual reality concept and are being renamed other terms, such as immersive design, virtual prototyping, etc.
The vision of product designers wearing 3D goggles geared up with space-age input devices and wondering through massive datasets morphed into virtual environments and manipulating or changing product models just like a sculptor would mold clay…not so much.
Virtual reality re-emerges
Because of my background in covering virtual reality, anytime news pops up covering the technology, it peaks my interest. This week I came across news of a company showcasing immersive VR software. Visionary Render allows users to access and experience a real-time, interactive and immersive VR environment created from massive 3D datasets.
Users can work alone, in small groups, or collaborate with colleagues located elsewhere in a common virtual environment to perform detailed design reviews, rehearse in-depth training tasks, validate maintenance procedures or verify assembly and manufacturing processes. The software allows importing and visualizing of million+ part CAD datasets, enabling full immersion within the VR environment.
“Visionary Render delivers VR capabilities to CAD users and benefits throughout the product lifecycle and you don’t have to be a VR expert to use it,” says Virtalis Managing Director David Cockburn-Price. “Consequently, Visionary Render allows users to easily interact with and immerse themselves in their data on a human scale, to collaborate with others in a single VR environment and to tap into the benefits that flow from those activities throughout the product lifecycle.”
Visionary Render delivers advanced rendering in real-time with ease of importing from a range of data sources, maintaining naming, hierarchies and the associated metadata. Not only that, but CAD is visualized on immersive human-scale, via collaborative VR display systems, such as the Virtalis ActiveWorks portfolio.
Key Benefits of Visionary Render:
• Interactive and immersive capability enhances communication and understanding
• Unique 3D semi-transparent User Interface reinforces the 3D
• Handle and manage huge and complex CAD data sources seamlessly
• Collaborate in a single VR environment – Globally
• Reduce load times significantly
• Cluster aware for increased performance
• Collision detection for the entire model enhances realism and improves understanding
I’m certainly intrigued and once again excited about the possible applications of a technology I’ve been watching closely for the past two decades. It’s easy to see how VR can help product designers not only design better but collaborate more effectively with others involved in design reviews, especially those without CAD expertise.