Real Virtuality – Beyond Hollywood

By Michael
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Here I am at Dassault Systèmes, the company spezializing in 3D and lifelike experiences. Dare I ask:

  • How useful is a virtual experience?
  • How real is a computer generated environment?

Virtual reality has come a long way. In Hollywood for example. Think of “You’ve got mail” as a first step, a film made in 1998 with Meg Ryan getting all excited about receiving a virtual letter on her computer screen.

In “Matrix ” also made in ‘98, where Keanu Reeves is torn between the real world (not cozy) and a virtual world (the matrix), which is revealed as being the false reality.

Further back and quite visionary, Stanly Kubrick’s 1968 film “A Space Odyssey 2001” (note that we have already passed this year) presents Computer HAL with virtual intelligence and in charge of almost everything in the space ship, starts to misbehave and needs to be shut down .

Finally in “Disclosure ”, a movie from 1994 (not really a good one I think), where Michael Douglas solves the story’s mystery by means of entering a virtual library in full VR gear with data gloves and head set.

Where are we TODAY really – with virtual reality ?

To highlight this, let’s look at a recent example from the aircraft industry. Airbus’ manufacturing site for aircraft wings in the UK, Broughton, needed an immersive virtuality environment to validate methods and process improvements in manufacturing for their new A350XWB aircraft – before any physical model was built.

Their requirements included:

  • Working directly with their CATIA and DELMIA PLM data and turn them into a 3D immersive virtuality model (without any need for translation)
  • Utilizing head and hand tracking for full immersion
  • Linking into a high-end haptic system, i.e. to have force feedback in reaction to manipulations on the model
  • Making this an integral day-to-day tool for their manufacturing engineers


Airbus got all this from Virtalis, a UK-based system integrator specializing in immersive virtuality turnkey installations and a Dassault Systèmes cooperation partner in the virtual experience domain around 3DVIA Virtools, CATIA and DELMIA software. Virtalis was capable of putting this together to meet Airbus’ needs , based on the Dassault Systèmes PLM environment, all while incorporating key solution components from Haption, another member of the DS software partner community.

So this seems pretty real and useful, doesn’t it?

Meanwhile back in Hollywood: they don’t stop getting inspired and borrowing technology for their movie plots. This time they shopped at Creaform based in Quebec, a specialist in 3D scanning and reverse engineering and a solution partner of Dassault Systèmes as well.


Have fun with this detective crime-buster clip on Creaform’s website. Here’s a screenshot from it to entice you:

I’ll talk to you again soon with more cool stuff …


Sustainable Use of Light

By Michael
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Wouldn’t you like to see how your new product – long before it has been produced – looks like in a real-life ambiance?

As an architect you’d be able to expose your fabulous apartment building in 3D to natural light conditions – thus demonstrating how the evening sun would illuminate the veranda and rays would beam through the windows of the living room. As a mobile device manufacturer, you could virtually look at your product at night and test the visibility of your backlit control panel. As a civil engineer you could test and optimize the ideal orientation of solar panels mounted on the roof of the supermarket which is now equipped with solar energy.


Optis, a software company with headquarters in the south of France, subsidiaries in Japan, the US and Germany, does exactly this! Optis has pioneered their methods for scientific light simulation and human vision since 1989 to help their customers optimize their design processes. Have a look at the video clip below to see how this works:

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The benefits of this approach go beyond aesthetic optimization of product design. It has a very powerful “green” dimension with respect to minimizing energy consumption (remember physics class: light = energy). Here are some examples of how this can be used:

  • Optimizing energy efficiency of lighting systems
  • Optimizing material usage in products while even improving light performance
  • Facilitating the design of most efficient solar sensors

Last week Optis was invited with Dassault Systèmes to join the Delhi Sustainable Development Summit 2009 where the world leaders of “green thinking” met and discussed ideas and concepts to answer the ecological challenges that the world faces. Virtual design in 3D with enabled light simulation may be just one contribution to succeed towards reaching the goal of sustainable and environmental conscious development of products, material usage and energy consumption.

Dassault Systèmes has a long standing relationship with Optis, who joined our Software Community Partner program in 2002. This partner program hosts over 165 leading companies to develop their applications integrated with Dassault Systèmes portfolio across our brands CATIA, SIMULIA, ENOVIA, DELMIA and 3DVIA. In addition Optis is also a partner in the SolidWorks community.

Our partners offer around 500 software solutions “on top” of DS’ offering in specialized industry applications. Our joint customers can tap into this vast source to find the right solution to solve their industry challenges in design, simulation, and manufacturing or for experiencing their product in a virtual world.

Hey, it’s nice to be part of this blog team and to have the opportunity to chat about what our solution partners bring to the party.


P.S. Sometimes I think that our Software Partner program is one of the best kept secrets at DS … and it’s my mission to change that ! Many more examples of interesting solutions can be cited. Please let me know what types of application domains interests you the most and I’ll try to blog about them.

Xplorair: A New Mobility Concept

By Richard
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Xplorair PX200

Here is one of our current Passion for Innovation projects: Xplorair.

When I was approached about it, I immediately thought, “Wow! Here is The Fifth Element taxi!” That being said, it quickly became obvious that Xplorair was a solid project, lead by an experienced aero engineer named Michel Aguilar.

The candidate projects we favor most in Passion for Innovation must bring something new and exciting to the world. There was no doubt about the excitement Xplorair generated when I read the proposal. And as for innovation, well, I’ll let you decide for yourself:

The Xplorair is a vertical take-off and landing without rotative wing vehicle based on the Coanda effect.

What is the Coanda effect? To put it briefly, it’s the ability of a fluid flow (liquid or gas) to “stick” to a convex surface and to attract it. It has been studied by the engineer Henri Coanda, therefore its name. A simple demonstration of this effect can be done by holding a sheet of paper by one of its ends, with one hand on each corner of that end. Blow on the piece of paper while aiming your breath between your hands, and you will see the free end of the paper rise up.

Congratulations! You have shown that upper surface blowing creates a bearing strength. This is what Xplorair is based on. If you blow on a wing’s upper surface, you will take off. If the wing is in fact made of two articulated parts with the jet engine blowing somewhere in the middle, it’s enough to change the angle between the two wing parts to make the transition between vertical take-off, and regular, horizontal flight.

The Coanda effect has already been used on some aircrafts to bring additional bearing strength and reduce take-off distances. However, Xplorair is definitely a breakthrough as it is the FIRST aircraft entirely relying on this effect for BOTH take-off and flight.

To spice up the project, Xplorair will treat the subject of greener mobility. The engine– a brand new kind of engine called a thermoreactor– is a second technical breakthrough in its own right. It will use second generation biofuels (i.e. non threatening for food nor biodiversity), and some cabin elements, such as the control panel and seats, will be made out of agro-materials.

Xplorair will come in several versions (1, 2 or 4 seats). For starters we’re working to develop the monoseat version, the PX200 (for Personal Xplorair, 200 km/h).

The Xplorair team is using CATIA V5 as the 3D CAD software for design, SIMULIA and CAA-partner CD-Adapco solutions to simulate the vehicle in operation.

So, is Xplorair an airplane? a flying car? a flying motorbike? No matter what you call it, it’s a new mobility concept.

And who could give this concept a shape if not DS Design Studio? I’m happy to announce that we just started the ideation phase with Anne Asensio’s enthusiastic and creative team. They were already sketching during the meeting. ;-)

Stay tuned for more info about Xplorair in future 3D Perspectives blog posts.

Keep 3D-ing!



P.S. Unfortunately, neither Bruce Willis nor Milla Jovovich will be delivered with the final product, just in case you’re wondering . . .

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