Day 2 @ Laval Virtual = Fire

By Kate

Hi. It’s day two at Laval Virtual and there are even more people circulating around the show floor. Today I’d like to showcase another example of how virtual reality is being used in the industrial world (although I’m tempted to tell you about the mixed reality bad breath game).

Virtual reality can be applied even to the most mundane things, like wooden pallets. Who even thinks about these? If you’ve ever been to IKEA you’ve walked by them in the warehouse/check out section. If you’ve ever been to the grocery store when they’re bringing in forklifted stacks of boxes packed with canned goods, you’ve seen them.

Have you ever thought about burning wooden pallets?

Well I can tell you that at least the pallet handling and logistics company Planet Pal has, and so has their insurance provider.

Planet Pal wanted to build a VR application to help them analyze a plethora of pallet burning scenarios, without burning away a plethora of physical and monetary resources.

They’ve partnered with some graduate students studying in the VR masters program at MNRV here in Laval, France. Three female students were assigned to the project. (I’m highlighting the female bit because the virtual reality industry is a very masculine world, so if you’re a young woman and interested in working in VR, go for it! There’s great work to be done.) They named the application Virtual Fire.

In the case of the Laval Virtual demo everything “takes place” in the virtual replication of a real warehouse facility stockyard. Here’s how it works:

1. With your computer mouse, select the type of pallet you’d like to test and place it anywhere in the virtual environment. You can stack up to 50 pallets in one tower. Add as many pallet stacks that you’d like and arrange them together.
2. Select the fire (comes as a red triangle until you activate the burning) and place it where you’d like the fire to start.
3. Select the wind force and direction.
4. Start the fire.

Before your eyes, the poor wooden pallets will burn at an astonishingly fast rate. During my demo they were gone in 28 seconds. Like that. The application gives a sort of “score” after the experiment, showing you stats on the wind, stacks and burn time.

Here’s where the serious gaming part shines. You can repeat the exercise with the same wind conditions and fire origin (or other), but this time put more space between your stacks. See what happens. And tweak until you save the maximum number of stacks.

Today Virtual Fire is a prototype. Planet Pal plans to use it to prove to its insurance provider that the company is aware and sensitive to fire hazards, which is good for keeping its insurance coverage. And not only that, they’ll be able to apply the knowledge learned from the virtual experiments to create safer real-life pallet scenarios.

The developers told me they will be evolving the application to include other elements like geolocalisation, which links to fire factors such as air humidity and the types of winds you may expect at certain locations.

I always like to dream about future innovation possibilities, so imagine if a pallet fire spreads to neighboring homes or businesses? How many seconds or minutes would it take for an entire block to go down in flames? I think this would be really useful information for municipal planners and firemen, and of course us citizens who would benefit from safer communities!

So while wooden pallets may seem mundane, I think we all agree that fires are anything but that. Virtual Fire is another cool, or should I say hot, example of how virtual reality can help us live better lives.

Many thanks to the developers Lucie Coudurier, Nadège Carlier and Emilie Brisseau for such an elegant and useful VR application. Thanks also to the students at the Institute for Applied Mathematics who developed the fire algorithm, the secret to making the virtual fire scientifically realistic.



P.S. BTW, the developers used 3DVIA Virtools to create Virtual Fire.

Live from Laval Virtual Day 1: R-Screen

By Kate

Hi! I’m blogging from Laval Virtual, and as I type I can hear a virtual cat meowing. There’s lots of fun and crazy stuff going on over here, but today I wanted to highlight an “I spy” that I find particularly interesting for the automotive industry, and most importantly, car buyers like you and me.

R-Screen is a first-of-a-kind VR application allowing consumers to visit a car virtually, showroom style. What I mean is, rather than being in a VR cave or in front of a large, static immersive screen, you must physically walk around the virtual car to see it. Hint, there’s a pivoting screen involved, but you’ll understand better when you watch the video.

“So what?” you may be wondering, but consider the possibilities. Rather compact (3 x 2 meters), R-Screen could be used to:

  • Demo mobility concepts at shows without production. This provides OEMs an opportunity to save resources.
  • Showcase several cars in one spot. A different car, a different audience/day, same show floor real estate.
  • Try and buy new models before they’re in circulation. Want to get a feel for that new Renault model not yet available at the dealership near you? R-Screen lets you do this.
  • Test personalization options and features. You think you’ll like the model in red with an integrated GPS system? Well you may not once you pick up your new car. You can try on all kinds of options virtually before purchasing.

Here’s a little video so you too can take the tour:

YouTube Preview Image

Now I can’t help wondering . . . Imagine being at your favorite dealership near you. With an evolved version of the the R-Screen, you select a car body that best suits your personality and needs. Then you pick from a list of engines that fit within the body. Then interior options, etc. etc. You’ve designed a “My Car” that isn’t necessarily on the vendor list. When you’re satisfied, you click a button. Your choices synch with the PLM metadata, and someone on the production side clicks another button and your “My Car” gets made and shipped to the dealership. No more advance production, storing and shipping. And you get exactly what you want.

Perhaps I’m dreaming a little, but I see this as a possibility for future innovations. What do you think?

Let me know if you’re at Laval Virtual. I’d love to meet up with you!

More to come tomorrow . . .


P.S. R-Screen was made with several 3DVIA Virtools modules, including their VR pack. CLARTE came up with the concept and developed it, and Renault holds the patent.

Community Spirit

By Michael

Courtesy of W. Kohn/DHM, Berlin

Courtesy of W. Kohn/DHM, Berlin

“Who’s turn to do the dishes?” is one of the favorites in a shared household community which you might have enjoyed when you were a student.

Each of us may have a different set of experiences from being part of a community. But what becomes clear very fast is that every community needs to share a defined interest – and you better confirm with the members that they all have the same understanding and sufficient motivation to engage in pursuing a common goal.

Shared households want to split their expense for the rent, football teams want to score and win, an expedition to the Himalaya wants to get to the top and survive. JFK empowered the US nation – a large community – with the goal to get man on the moon.

What’s the secret behind successful communities? It’s certainly not an easy task to start up a community and keep it running. It requires leadership, dedication, skills and continuous efforts.

Similar principles apply for business partnerships. Beyond an initial euphoria regarding “becoming partners” a joint vision and business model are needed where everyone can contribute, win and take their share of the business. Motivation comes from benefits achieved through cooperation, a tangible value from working together for success.

For Dassault Systèmes the ecosystem of partners has always been of primary importance. Find out more about our programs and the different types of partnerships in the world of PLM and 3D by browsing our website.

If we look at our software partner community for instance: since the year 2000 the adoption and deployment of the V5 PLM solution portfolio has been strongly supported by independent software companies who use the V5 infrastructure delivering applications to complete and extend the global solution for customers in specific industry processes.

Today the offering counts almost 500 partner applications. Partner software integrates with DS’ products which brings value and advantages for users, but also enables the partner and DS channels to sell both their respective products. This is the win-win-win business model needed to define a shared goal, to keep the team going together.

Beyond the logic of leveraging business value from the partnership there is the emotional side of things – call it spirit, call it attitude – which is essential for the success of a community. A community is made of people after all. And if you can establish trust and maintain confidence, if you are able to grow the motivation and unleash the energy in a team: you win.

This is why we put a lot of emphasis in what is called “community animation” which is probably not a good expression as it reminds of a Club Med vacation camp. What we want to achieve is to show the community in action, to get more and more participation from members, to enable cross-collaboration between partner companies. This is at the core of what I am doing at DS

Animation happens at joint customer events when we co-present solutions, at industry shows at a joint exhibit, by sharing information in newsletters, by posting and linking website content. We conduct specific partner events such as the Dassault Systèmes Developers Conference with the Partner Summit on June 23/24 and 25, 2009. And with the availability of social software opportunities we have started to involve our partners in participating and contributing their ideas and specific capabilities online, in a community forum and a public blog focusing on partner solutions on the PLM MarketPlace.

In a second post in this series you will learn more about the transition “from ecosystems to communities”, and the specific programs DS runs to incite increasing cooperation in the communities. Expect insights in how this offers opportunities to participate and benefit.

Stay tuned for more,

P.S. And keep in mind: partnership is a people business.

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.