Virtual Reality in 50 Years

By Kate

What will VR be like in 50 years . . . what comes AFTER virtual reality!?

These are some of the questions I asked Jean-Louis Dautin, the director of the VR technology center CLARTE, as part of our VR-interview series.

Jean-Louis is an industry veteran from the industrial-business side of the VR sector. Here’s what I asked him:

1. What’s CLARTE’s mission ?
2. Out of all the VR projects you’re working on, which one’s your favorite?
3. What types of advancements are needed to bump up VR to the next level?
4. What will VR be like in 50 years?
5. What comes after virtual reality?

Enjoy the interview . . .

Q1 : What’s CLARTE’s mission ?

A: CLARTE is a VR technology center that interfaces R&D and working with companies. Our mission is to pragmatically extract and package ideas from the research world to make them useful for corporations. The iteration of this is simple. For one, we help companies determine what are the concrete advantages to leveraging virtual reality, and, second, to help these companies apply VR technologies within the enterprise.

Q2: Out of all the VR projects you’re working on, which one’s your favorite?

A: We’re working on numerous VR projects heavily implicating industrials, especial industrials working in the transportation sector. The kinds of VR projects we’re focused on right now are projects focused on working collaboratively and ergonomics, and for these we’re using Virtools.

Why do we think these projects are important? For one, we esteem that working collaboratively can very quickly bring companies a return on investment. While this sector carries a lot of potential, today’s it’s not exploited very well, whether this be by video or audio conferencing systems. Yet there aren’t very many veritable VR applications that really permit collaboration through immersive, 3D-interactive, real-time technology. This is a point that we work on a lot, for example, with a project called Partage.

The second sector where we’re investing resources is ergonomics, in particular the ergonomics for industrial production posts. It’s not a secret that today in France and occidental Europe we’re faced with challenges to maintain industrial employment. It’s clear that we must increase and improve productivity. Improving productivity today consists of improving the quality of work stations with the objective to reduce the amount of sick leave by improving the quality of the working environment. For this we’re working with several automotive OEMs, notably PSA, on the conception of ergonomic work stations based exclusively on virtual reality prototyping.

Q3: What types of advancements are needed to bump up VR to the next level?

A: If you look at VR visualization technologies, for example display, image immersion, they’ve all pretty much reached maturity. What we’re missing today are true multi-sensorial technologies, implicating a real return of force, non-perturbing, highly intuitive and reactive. These systems exist and they’re being worked on in labs, but none are really exploitable for the industrial world. This is where our challenge lies. Don’t forget that VR is about creating professional-quality illusions. If you want an end-user to work with a virtual prototype the way he would a real prototype, in his head everything needs to process as if the virtual prototype were real. You need a perfect illusion, and a perfect illusion implicates multi-sensorial experiences.

Q4: What will VR look like in 50 years?

A: Virtual reality in 50 years is the illusion that is perfect in all senses, whereby we can do everything as if everything around us were real. That means physical sensorial feedback, impeccable audio-spatial feedback, even odors!

But in 50 years I think we’ll go far beyond working in the virtual world instead of the real world. We’ll definitely have pushed working collaboratively to the extreme. With Telepresence, when you’re working with 10 geographically dispersed locations you’ll really have the impression that the people from those different sites are physically working with you in the same room. And you’ll really get the benefits of working in the same room with the same relational quality without needing to focus on the enabling technology, for example, focusing on looking at a video camera verses your colleague whom you’re addressing, etc.

Also in 50 years you can imagine that the costs for providing this technology will be significantly reduced to make it available to everyone.

Q5: What comes after virtual reality?

A: After virtual reality? This is a great question! I’d say after virtual reality it’s simply reality. Above and beyond all the technologies we’ve been discussing, there’s the problem of the human factor, which is very important. Beyond Telepresence, working collaboratively, multi-sensorial immersion, etc., there will be numerous questions about the psychology of people working in these environments. The ‘after virtual reality’ will be an ‘after’ that takes into account the ensemble of these psychological challenges. We’re already working on them today, but certainly not sufficiently, and this is the last barrier before we can have complete virtual reality.

Merci Jean-Louis!

Do you agree? What do YOU think will come after virtual reality?

Best,

Kate

P.S. If you missed other interviews in this series, here’s the collection thus far:

P.P.S. I’ve covered two of CLARTE’s industrial projects in previous blog posts. If you like the sound of what they’re doing, you may enjoy:

How we can search and tag rich media and 3D?

By Oleg

Search is entering our life everywhere. Remember how we looked for information pre-Google and during the early Internet era? I think you’ve probably forgotten how far we’ve come with search technologies since just a decade ago (1998). Take a look at this short video about Search Engines Commercials from 1998.

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After you experiment with search for some time, you probably understand that to find something is only the beginning. The second part of the search experience is to store or be able use the specific part of information you found. In the early days we stored favorite links, but this is really not that useful these days. In one of my blog posts on plmtwine, I’ve been discussing how it’s possible to use tagging to easy classify various types of information.

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Now, you probably will ask me- what next? I was very impressed to see the public technological preview by Exalead presenting speech-to-text, phonetic search and named entity recognition technology in their product Voxalead. What was interesting is that this technology combined rich media (video and voice) search with the ability to point and mark on a specific place in these media. So, we can combine search media and tagging. This is really cool!

To show more specific examples, I created two cases. One of them is a video search for “Google”. As you can see, a specific point in this video shows place and text transcription of place where the name “Google” was mentioned. So you don’t need to spend your time and watch the whole video, you can go directly to specific place.

Another example is search in an audio stream that contains the name “Bernard Charles”. The same cool result! I can go directly to the place where Bernard’s name is mentioned and listen exactly to this portion of the audio stream.

So, I hope you enjoyed these examples. I’m sure, in the future, we will find additional ways to explore information and media and 3D. I’m expecting more Search, Tagging and 3D technologies to provide a great adventure for people looking for new products, information and media.

Best, Oleg

Tiger Woods and my dad have something in common

By Tim

No, it’s not below-par rounds of golf. My dad’s sport was basketball. But both golf and b-ball contributed to their common link – bad knees.  Tiger’s knee injury ended his 2008 season prematurely. Tiger had arthroscopic surgery and physical therapy and is winning at his sport once again.

My dad also had arthroscopic surgery. It helped him for a while. But in his late 50’s he underwent complete knee replacement surgery on his right knee. A few years later, he had his left knee replaced. Then about 10 years after that, he underwent a second replacement on his right knee. Though he never got back on the basketball court, the implants definitely helped him maintain his quality of life by keeping him mobile and eliminating his knee pain.

Both Tiger and my dad have been helped thanks to ongoing research of knee mechanics and orthopedic implants. Researchers at Scripps Clinic have recently published a study on patients with knee replacements.

 At the time of surgery, they implanted tiny computer chips in the patient’s knees. These chips sent data to receivers that recorded the stresses on the knee joint during various activities. They then used the data, in combination with Abaqus FEA software from SIMULIA, to make increasingly complex 3D computer models of human knees. With these realistic models they can now perform accurate virtual tests on a variety of potential knee replacement parts and surgical techniques. Check out the case study on Scripp’s research published at Design World Magazine’s website.

Other researchers, such as the team at the University of Aberdeen  in the UK, have also published a study on using realistic simulation to understand the effect of ACL reconstructive surgery. Check out their paper published at the 2009 SIMULIA Customer Conference.

Engineers at Zimmer  and the University of Wisconsin-Madison collaborated on research published at the 2008 Abaqus Users’ Conference on material modeling of a virtual biomechanical knee.

Knee biomechanics and orthopedic implants is just one area of bioengineering research that is being performed with Abaqus. In the coming weeks, I will report on many other engineering groups who are creating virtual 3D models and realistic simulations of the human body to develop innovative products and medical treatments that are significantly enhancing the quality and longevity of our lives.

Enjoy,

Tim

p.s.

Have you had knee surgery, a knee replacement, or other type of implant? Feel free to leave a comment about your experience or your view of using realistic simulation for bioengineering research.



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