Sound Bits – from LMS Engineering Simulation Conference 2010

By Michael

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I’ve been to the LMS User Conference held in Munich and it has been fun being indulged in real-life engineering challenges as they were presented by leading contenders in the manufacturing industry, e.g. from Boeing, Renault, PSA, Liebherr, Piaggio, Iveco, Alena Aeronautica, Toyota, BMW, Daimler, Continental, BSH, Behr, John Deere, EADS, Safran and others.

Unisono they reported about their challenges that are constantly increasing with more functionality and complexity being introduced into the products, still more model variants, while at the same time new tough “green” requirements are added (that’s good for us: less energy consumption and pollution), and once again the economical constraints not really relaxing …

To illustrate the point I pick one single topic from the many, and want to reflect on the presentation delivered by Dr. Bernd Pletschen of Daimler AG. He and his team are responsible for designing the sound experience of car buyers and users (also referred to as psychoacoustics).

Now, it seems that Daimler has a “luxury problem”. With the elevated prices of their brand (his words) he states that the driver’s impression always needs to be a luxurious one in order to justify the buy of a Mercedes car. As his company plans to reduce the use of physical prototypes by 40%, his department needs to compensate and improve acoustics / noise-vibration-harshness (NVH) simulation for optimal sound design – via virtual prototypes – and validated via physical tests.

Interesting questions arise:

  • What defines the perception of sound?
  • What makes it a pleasant experience – or makes it unpleasant noise?
  • Is this perception equal for all – independent of sex, culture, age?

Er, sorry … no …  It seems that sounds mean different things to different people.

There are different sources of noise with a vehicle which add up to a global experience. Dr. Pletschen talked about sound engineering disciplines and what could be the perception of “luxury sounds”:

Aeroacoustics:   “Playing with the wind”
Power-train sound:   “Reassuring power”
Intake/exhaust noise:   “Quiet and pleasant”
Road noise:   “Enjoy comfortable gliding”

How does this engine sound appeal to you ?

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… or these?

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Another challenge comes with the change-over of sound patterns when switching from traditional  gas engines to electric engines (lacking the so familiar “start and idle” noise – however adding high frequency noises coming from the e-engine), yet over to fuel-cell cars on the horizon.

How to maintain the luxury sound perception within these paradigm shifts?

On another angle, the (missing) electric engine sound may pose a problem to pedestrians:

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Maybe this could be the solution?

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Just kidding!

More seriously, with engineering challenges like the ones described it shows that manufacturers look for more and more complete simulation schemes to support their product development. They certainly welcome every simulation technology contribution and innovation from their solution partners. This is true for the acoustics domain but nonetheless for the many other domains with their own specific challenges.

As you may know, LMS is a long-time partner in the Dassault Systèmes Alliance Program community – and product integrations exist with CATIA (LMS.Virtual.Lab is based on CATIA’s 3D core) and SIMULIA Abaqus. You can check out noise & vibration simulation, sound engineering and other engineering simulation solutions provided by LMS in their section on the DS website, on the PLM MarketPlace or the LMS website.

From the LMS event I conclude, that with the agenda for a greener future set, manufacturers are challenged to manage a set of increasing requirements, while maintaining / improving user experiences.  To master this, realistic simulation becomes a necessity for them.

Soon more – from the wonderful world of engineering.

Michael

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First Xbox Live Arcade made with 3DVIA Virtools

By Virgile

Hello!

As you all know, 3DVIA software line is attractive to a pretty wide audience of users, including game developers. Now comes a new and great proof of it, with the first Xbox LIVE Arcade game, called Lazy Raiders, developed by talented Quebec base studio Sarbakan, and made with 3DVIA Virtools. This game just published by Microsoft Game Studios received excellent reviews, including a 8.0 out of 10 by IGN, and was categorized as “Impressive”. It also has a dedicated website: http://www.lazyraiders.com and can be tested and purchased here on Xbox LIVE marketplace since yesterday, Feb. 24, 2010.

We’re very proud to have worked with Sarbakan during the project, and look forward to meeting the team again at the San Francisco Game Developer Conference in March. The game will be playable on the 3DVIA booth, and the lead programmer of the game will be running several presentation session on the booth.

For those with an Xbox 360 at home, it’s time to play!

Virgile

Virtual World Concepts for CPG: Challenges!

By Vincent

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In the first installment of this series, we talked about how CPG companies might apply the first-person POV popularized in MMORPGs like World of Warcraft to achieve a more lifelike experience with consumers in virtual store environments.  In the second installment we explored how CPG companies are leveraging Second Life – a multi-user virtual environment (“MUVE”) – to enhance both their consumer-facing activities and their internal operations.  Today we’ll discuss some of the practical challenges of using virtual world technologies in CPG operations.

Part 3—Challenges to Using Virtual World Technologies in CPG

There are technical challenges to using virtual world technologies in a business setting.  Environments like Second Life are hardware-intensive; to operate effectively they require an amount of CPU, RAM, graphics acceleration, and bandwidth that many corporate end user machines simply don’t possess today.  But history has proven that market forces push the evolution of such technologies at such a rapid pace these technical challenges will be a non-factor in the near future.

What I find more interesting are the socio-psychological challenges of using these technologies in daily CPG operations, specifically in the realm of virtual product design teams.  These challenges cannot be mitigated as easily as simply providing machines with more horsepower.  How do we recreate the social dynamics experienced by design teams accustomed to working face-to-face in a virtual environment?  Is it even optimal to do so?

How do we foster trust, participation, and creativity in virtual teams?

There is a wealth of excellent research available on this topic.  Many researchers reference Social Presence Theory and Media Richness Theory to argue that the closer we get to replicating the experience of face-to-face interaction (i.e. the “richer” the medium), the better the technology is at conveying social presence, and therefore the more effective the communication will be between collaborators.

But others have challenged this theory.  In their research Effects of Communication Medium on Interpersonal Perceptions, Connell, Mendelsohn, Robins and Canny suggest that a

“moderate level of richness and presence… makes for a medium that inspires less inhibition of expression than either of its more fully rich or lean counterparts. The results suggest that moderate presence of others allows one to relax just enough to feel comfortable and less inhibited, and moderate richness allows enough, but not too many, expressive cues to still manage impressions.”

In developing their Embodied Social Presence Theory, Dr. Brian Mennecke et al. (www.vrac.iastate.edu) extended Social Presence Theory to investigate how the “physical” body of an avatar adds to the richness of communication by heightening the sense of engagement between virtual actors.

“It is the perceptions of the interaction mediated through the body that gives the user a sense of engagement that is more involving than would be the case in other media. Key to this interactive potential are the shared contexts, shared spaces, shared objects, shared activities, and the tools for interaction that exist within the milieu of artifacts that define the shared virtual experience.”

Check out this excerpt from PBS’ Frontline presentation “Digital Nation” that shows how IBM is leveraging embodiment in Second Life to facilitate internal meetings.

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I am working with Dr. Mennecke to identify industry partners for field research on Embodied Social Presence Theory; if you are interested in participating please contact me directly.

Virtually,

Vincent



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