Dangerous Immersive Virtuality: Laval Virtual Day 2

By Kate


If you could put all the odds on your side to execute a dangerous task without incident, would you?  Of course you would!  But would it be your reflex to look to your computer and an interactive 3D application to accomplish this?  Probably not.  Yet.

The problem with dangerous situations is that you can’t really simulate them in real-life without mobilizing lots of resources and, well um, risking your safety.  First Aid courses taught with lifelike dummies can give you a lifelike situation in real life, without the risk, and efficiently help you learn your stuff.  But when you digress to scenarios like tight rope walking over a lava pit, or more seriously cleaning up toxic waste, you quickly realize there’s nothing more serious than a near-life simulation.

Through a research project destined to push the limits of 3D immersive training, partners Emissive, CEA and UTC Research are building an interesting training program for gasoline truck drivers.

Unlike when you or I fill’er up at the gas station, the gasoline truck drivers risk their lives each time they do the same.  The possibilities for accidents abound.  For example explosions can ignite with something so minimal as static electricity in your hair.  If you have a leak, what to do?  Etc.,etc.

Emissive has a stand at Laval Virtual this year, so I was able to sneak in a chat with Fabien and Emmanuel about VS3 (Virtual reality for Safe Seveso Subcontractors).  Here’s a look at the early work:

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I look forward to see how this project progresses, and especially to see how the test with the truck drivers goes.  Normally you don’t associate immersive virtuality and 3D with gasoline truck drivers, but in our brave new world, these types of serious game applications for a non-geek public, I predict, will become commonplace.

What do you think about V3S?

Signing off from Laval Virtual 2010,


AR Pool is Cool: Laval Virtual Day 1

By Kate
Virtual Ear Pulling @ Laval Virtual

Virtual Ear Pulling @ Laval Virtual

What I wouldn’t do to provide you live coverage from Laval Virtual!  After waking up at 4:30 a.m. to catch the only morning train to Laval, France (train strike today), and consequently a double espresso, hot chocolate, another espresso and two Cokes later, I’m now in the press room trying to sort through the brain explosion of what I’ve experienced so far at Laval Virtual 2010. 

My top pick is much influenced by my university and post-grad billiard playing days.  The French (or maybe it’s my phase in life) aren’t much into billiards, and you certainly can’t listen to Little Feat’s “Dixie Chicken” while you shoot if you do find a table.  So I was particularly excited when I saw a REAL billiard table at this virtuality conference.  Electrical and Computing Engineer (and I assume avid pool fan) Samuel Jordan from Queens University is the master mind behind this augmented reality billiard concept. 

The set-up for “AR Pool” is simple: a billiard table, computer, and overhead camera and projector.  What makes the magic is behind the set-up.  There’s this nifty physics simulator that suggests the best shot given the location of your cue ball in relation with the other balls and pockets that makes it magic. 

I’ve mixed together a little Flip video of my chat with Samuel and my try at pool playing.  You’ll note from my unsteady hand the effects of too much caffeine.  ;-)  When the pocket lights up, that means you’re well positioned to sink the ball and should shoot.

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How do you like this little AR bijou? 

What would you like for tomorrow’s post?  Serious industrial stuff or more fun?  There’s a full pickin’! 



Go for a hard drive and…..crash!

By Jonathan


Whilst flying back from a business trip in Germany, I was reading an article in my “fly-by-wire” Airbus from the Global NY Times by James Carroll. It was all about the great American romance for cars being over, mentioning eco issues, and Toyota’s probs, etc. I particularly loved the play on words with “hard drive” and “crash” saying they used to be physical things to do with cars,  but now it’s all about the on board computer gadgetry crashing.

I can understand.  Back when I was 18-years-old and was messing around with modified cars down the back lanes, a hard drive was always needed to test my latest tweeks.  I was lucky.  I never crashed any cars – and I still have my tuned SAAB 96 V4 now 20 years later.

Would today’s cars last 20 years?

Then I thought, it must be a generation thing – the NY Times journalist is older than me after all!!  He comes from a generation where low tuned big engines were the solution to reliability.  Fuel consumption and pollution weren’t issues.

Today, as we all know, it’s a completely different story. I for one couldn’t go to work every day in my beloved 1972 SAAB.  It’s just not safe enough, fuel efficient enough, quiet enough, and easy to drive in traffic jams – I have to turn the heating on in the summer to stop the engine from steaming!

But for a lot of people the romance of cars has changed, if they ever had one.

Believe it or not most people just want to get from A to B efficiently, safely and in comfort. Ask most people what they hate about cars and they’ll say: purchase prices, reliability issues and running costs.

As the Chinese proverb goes “May you live in interesting times”. Well, I can safely say that the Automotive Industry is certainly going through its biggest moment since Henry Ford.

Remember how confusing it was for us to grow into adulthood from that awkward teenager?  I think the automobile is going through just this.

The child car was a mechanical car, fashioned from a good 100 years of mechanical excellence…just think of those magnificent steam trains, bridges and the Eiffel tower!

The teenage car was a bold and innovative if not reckless car, but the mature adult car is not yet upon us.

We still have the young adult trying to find his way in the jungle of regulations, demanding customers, ultra urbanisation, altered usage patterns, … and now to make things more complex he/she’s got a baby, and the baby’s called “multi-discipline engineering” but it nickname is “mecatronics“!

So in my opinion the Automotive Industry is on the verge of a phoenix like rebirth, where we’ll see a change akin to the iPhone made to mobile communications. We do truly live in interesting time…

What’s your take?

Sustainably yours,

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