Immersive Virtual Reality and Visual Handicap

By Richard

Last week, I attended an event at Telecom ParisTech, one of France’s top engineering schools. The event gathered about 30 experts in medicine and engineering for a set of conferences and debates dealing with Smart and  Communicating Devices for Health and Handicap.

Smart Devices can help in several health domains, from remote diagnosis to re-education. Being able to perform remote medecine can be useful in secluded spots such as high-mountain while re-education can take benefit from serious gaming applications.

On another hand, smart devices can help revive classic objects such as a white stick for visually impaired people. Just add an Infra Red scanner or a laser scanner and you get a Smart Electronic White Stick. Usually, you must touch the obstacle with the stick to be able to avoid it, and that way you’re unable to detect obstacles above the ground such as low tree branches. With such scanners and the help of a suitable sound or vibrating alert, visually impaired people can detect and avoid obstacles much sooner and in a much more fluent way. Demo videos are amazing, with people able to detect narrow corridors, the infamous low tree branches or a set of closed columns and avoid them peacefully, nearly as well as a person with unimpaired vision.

Talking about visual handicap and serious games lead me to an application shown on the Arts & Métiers ParisTech booth, another French top school of Engineers. The application, called Sensivise, has been produced thanks in part to our Passion for Innovation Program (hey! what else? ;-))  with 3DVIA Virtools. The goal is very simple: help valid people to understand the drag of visual impairment.

Tubular Vision simulation in the Sensivise application (urban environment)

Tubular Vision simulation in the Sensivise application (urban environment)

People get immersed in an urban or a familiar domestic 3D interactive environment. At first, you navigate with your regular, usual valid sight. Then, a visual impairment is simulated and you must adjust your behavior accordingly.

Today, two simulations are available: the central scotoma and the tubular vision (or tunnel vision, or gun barrel vision), but other ones could be added later.  The names and pictures say enough about each of those visual impairments. You have to make your way in the city with them, cross a street, avoid a car getting out of a car park etc. Back home, you have to go to the kitchen pick up a milk bottle while avoiding the low table in the living room or to have a shower without hitting the bath tub.

Central Scotoma simulation in Sensivise

Central Scotoma simulation in the Sensivise application (domestic environment)

The application shown on Arts & Métiers ParisTech was on a laptop and presents the user with several challenges such as the ones described above. Serious games to help valid people to get in visually impaired people’s shoes, understand their burden and ease life together. When you have gone through this application, maybe you won’t arrange your flat the same way if you happen to live with a visually impaired person.

Though effective on a laptop, Sensivise shows its full power only in its immersive version, as shown in our LIVES (Lifelike Immersive Virtual Experience Space) where you are really immersed in interactive 3D with suitable glasses.

I had several opportunities to show this application in that context, once to a person affected with central scotoma. She told me it was quite realistic, the only glitch being that valid people tend to try and look aside the central macula, which visually impaired people can’t do (the macula “turns” with the eyes). Since then, I always tell people not to do that, but this feedback accounts for the power and relevance of immersive virtual reality.

Sensivise immersive version as shown in DS Campus LIVES

Sensivise immersive version as shown in DS Campus LIVES

A last word: most applications presented at Télécom Paris Tech claimed they used “Virtual Reality”.  Nope.  A plain graphic serious game is not VR, even with nice computer art. Only 3D immersion can do the trick. There’s still a long road ahead, but applications such as Sensivise are showing the way.

Keep 3D-ing!


Richard BreitnerRichard Breitner, Passion for Innovation Program Manager

A chat with The Robot Whisperers: IMTS + Arc Welding

By Marc

It takes more than just a pretty face!

As handsome as they are, I don’t think we will see Mike and Tony in next season’s lineup of reality shows (although Mike is already contacting his agent to give it a shot). However I do believe we are seeing something special about these two ordinary guys who call themselves The Robot Whisperers.

I caught up with The Robot Whisperers during the recent IMTS tradeshow in Chicago, Illinois. IMTS is the largest bi-annual manufacturing technology show in the Western Hemisphere, where more than 80,000 attendees from over 100 countries came to see and buy equipment and tooling.  Those lucky folks also had the opportunity to meet these two good looking guys who also happen to have a passion and knack for Robotics.

Here’s a recap of my chat with Mike and Tony:

Q:  What about all the attention you’re getting and why  the online series?

Tony: I think it is instrumental for our audience to connect with real people and build a relationship. The whole premise of the “The Robot Whisperers” is that we’re just two ordinary guys with an extraordinary passion for robotics who want to share our knowledge (and a few secrets) in using highly advanced 3D robotic simulation and programming tools. The technology is here now, and we want to help people understand it and learn how to use it in their production environments. Manufacturers and suppliers know that to survive and succeed, they must keep up with technology to find ways to cut costs, get more work and most importantly– stay ahead of their competitors. – Plus, the fans are great. Do you want an autographed 8×10 photo?

Mike: I’m in it fame and fortune of course! No, seriously (as he laughs) – But I am out of photographs, sorry! — I would just add to Tony’s comments that this e-series is also about learning how to improve your relationship with your robots. I don’t mean to run out and buy them flowers and candy. Your spouse or your mom might like that. But like any type of automated equipment, robots can only perform as well as they are programmed to do their tasks. You can’t reason with them or persuade them to do their job. If it is not done correctly, it could be disastrous to your production environment. Using a more advanced 3D robotic simulation and programming technology, such as the DELMIA solutions showcased in our series, OEMs, tooling suppliers or any sized company can avoid costly and dangerous mistakes. Plus, companies will realize that they can engineer more quickly and launch their products and production systems faster.

Just then a reporter from MCAD Café whisked them away for an onsite camera interview. I got the footage.  Here is what the Robot Whisperers had to say…

The Robot Whisperers video interview on MCAD Cafè

Unfortunately not all 82,411 attendees could meet our Whisperers, but those who did had the chance to ask questions, get ideas and find answers to their most urgent manufacturing problems. So if you did miss them, be on the lookout: they might just show up at some event, in some city – somewhere! But until then, you can always find them online at

You also may be interested in their latest online series video trailer below:

YouTube Preview Image


Episode 2, “Robotology for Arc Welding

Happy (robot) programming!


Marc Rakowski works for Dassault Systèmes Americas.

3D Immersive Virtual Sea Life with Michel Desjoyeaux

By Richard

You might have read about famous French Skipper Michel Desjoyeaux’s new race boat. His 60 feet FONCIA monohull has been designed and built in six months thanks in part to our Passion for Innovation Program.  I hope you already took the 3D virtual boat tour, because it’s much more than fun and 3D wow! It’s about a man’s will to share his sailing life.

When we first met Michel, he shared his frustration about classic photos and videos. Okay, they may be great, but they all miss a point no matter their quality.   The experience.   Michel wanted to share what he experiences during his sailing raids.   He wanted people to understand  his sailing passion. In a word, he wanted to provide the general public with a lifelike experience.

This is exactly the type of challenge we love at Dassault Systèmes.   And we have  the right tool for this: Immersive Virtual Reality with 3DVIA.

If you’d like to get familiar with Michel’s 60ft.  FONCIA monohull, I recommend you try the online 3D experience.   You can even dive underwater and watch the famous swing keel he invented.  Try and take a walk in the cockpit, watch the navigation instruments. Go to the sails locker. Not easy, uh? You’ll have to crouch and crawl to reach that area.

Now, you begin to understand a skipper’s life.

I bet you never thought that room was so restricted on a 60ft. boat! That’s exactly what Michel wished to share with you, and we’re happy we could help.


Another tidbit, you may want to familiarize yourself with Michel’s boat, exploring it until you can comfortably navigate around.   That’s my advice, because … this is only the beginning. More on this project  later as things evolve.  But I will I tell you this: you won’t be disappointed.

Stay tuned and keep 3D-ing!


Richard Breitner, Passion for Innovation Program Manager

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