Satellite Shakes

By Kate
photo by Autumn Snake

photo by Autumn Snake

Imagine a fragile insect in its cocoon . . . attached to a rocket ship. The rocket ignites and thrusts its way to the outer hemispheres. Will the insect withstand the violent vibrations of its voyage and remain fully intact, succeeding to unfold its wings and fly upon arrival?

Satellites are like fragile insects catapulted into space. Yet each one costs over one million dollars to make.


You better not mess up when you design your satellite, and you better make sure it’s able to function when it gets to its work-space.

Who knew that as I was nibbling on my parmesan lollypop at Dassault Systèmes’ Partner Summit an hour ago I’d stumble into this sort of conversation?

Actually the satellite example is accessory, because what I was really talking about with Jan and Nick from LMS is virtual labs and realistic simulation.

But before you read further, I thought you’d like to watch a real video about satellite launching to get in the mood:

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We talk a lot about real and immersive virtuality, virtual labs, etc. And sometimes I hear people pondering the day when we can eliminate physical tests altogether.

But Jan and Nick pointed out are few things I think are pretty smart:

  1. When it comes to true innovations, things that have never been invented before, you can’t test them virtually until you’ve physically tested them. How can you integrate the physics of your invention if you’re not sure what they are? We don’t know the alpha and omega to Physics after all.
  2. Virtual testing is raising the bar for physical testing and shaping real-life testing as a whole.

Back to our fragile satellite and violently vibrating rocket example. Jan and Nick used the satellite shake test as an example to illustrate point number two.

Now you’ve got this real satellite, one that’s cost you over a million dollars to make, and you’ve got to shake it to death, so to speak. What if you could “shake it to death” without damaging or killing it?

Ah ha!

To accomplish this, you must carefully engineer your shake test. And the way to do this is to simulate your shake test with realistic simulation. The simulated shake test will help you better define and test the real thing, figure out the safest spots to place test instruments so they won’t damage the satellite during the test action, etc.

And, you can also imagine that with the knowledge gained from the virtual shake test, if done early enough, you could go back to the virtual drawing board and tweak the actual satellite design to give it a better chance of catapultion survival. (I occasionally make up words; hey, language evolves.)

So folks, this is what has jazzed me the most about the Partner Summit so far. Conversations about cool stuff with interesting people. It’s all about people.



P.S. Nick kindly gave me this avi of his technology in-action during a simulation satellite shake test.

iPhone + Photos + 3D Objects = Yum!

By Kate

I know. The photo looks a little funky. But it was taken with an iPhone yesterday just after Brent Hoberman from spoke at #DSDEVCON09.

I realize you may be confused. What’s that 3D chair doing next to Brent?

Ah hahhhhhh!

Well you see . . . Gerald and Stéphane from our R&D department have been busy developing some 3D fun for iPhone.

Here’s the story behind the photo:

3DVIA CEO Lynn Wilson asked Brent to stay onstage after his presentation and sit in the groovy black chair you see in the photo. Then Gerald whipped out his iPhone and took a photo of the scene and, from, imported the 3D model into the photo.

So what?

Well think about it. You’re at home and want to talk home deco with your spouse. There’s a sofa model that’s caught your eye, but you’re not sure how it will look in your living room. So you use your iPhone to take a picture of your living room and import through various 3D models of REAL sofas, i.e., sofas sold on This is the closest thing to having the real thing delivered to your home to try-then-buy. Yet no trips to the store, no credit card downpayments, no delivery men in your house.

Do you like it?

With the help of Gerald and Stéphane, I made a modest little video that shows how it works:

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Of course it can be used for frivolous means as well. Check out these snapshots Stéphane passed me:

Coming soon to App Store . . .



Join Us Virtually at #DEVCON09, Anytime

By Kate

Hi everyone,

I’ve had a whopping cup of black coffee and am ready to roll for another day of Devcon. There are still many things I’d like to blog about from yesterday, but I’m waiting to see what happens today before I commit to any content.

Meanwhile . . . are you sitting somewhere other than the Devcon breakout sessions? Fred Vacher has told me the Devcon virtual conference spaces, like the Shanghai World Expo 2010, will be open for your leisurely browsing and playing for a long time.

Fred took me on a tour of the virtual spaces this morning, and here’s what I like best:

  • The 3D objects are smart objects, meaning you can listen to that radio you see, and even change the channel if you don’t like the song playing! Go ahead, try to open all the cabinets and play all the media!
  • You can replay your favorite keynotes
  • You can interact with partner content
  • Your avatar is a Virtools person, just like in the video games
  • All the environments are made with 3DVIA Virtools, no Flash

I’m working on getting a 1 minute video of the virtual space and will add it here once obtained.

You also may enjoy Al Dean’s notes from his live Devcon experience yesterday.

Instructions to connect virtually: let ‘er rip!

To enter the conference :

1. Register by clicking here.

2. Select your Persona.

3. Enter in one of the 4 virtual rooms tagged “virtualdevcon”

To run 3D Virtual DevCon, you will need the 3dvia plug-in. In most cases the plug-in will install and execute itself automatically without any problem. If you notice a yellow bar at the top of your Internet Explorer window stating that the download is blocked, click on it and choose “Authorize the content”.

Minimal system configuration for running 3DVIA Virtual Devcon Private Beta:

  • Microsoft Windows(XP or Vista)
  • Pentium 4 1GHz(or equivalent)-512MB of RAM
  • Internet Explorer (6.0+), Firefox (3.0+)
  • 128MB Video card
  • Pilot DirectX 9c or recent
  • Windows MediaPlayer 9
  • High speed Internet connection



Addendum: The number of spots for the registration link is limited.  If you try to enter after the limit is reached, use this URL instead.

Beyond PLM (Product Lifecycle Management), Dassault Systèmes, the 3D Experience Company, provides business and people with virtual universes to imagine sustainable innovations. 3DSWYM, 3D VIA, CATIA, DELMIA, ENOVIA, EXALEAD, NETVIBES, SIMULIA and SOLIDWORKS are registered trademarks of Dassault Systèmes or its subsidiaries in the US and/or other countries.