Equipping Our VR Future

By Kate

Photo credits: Laval Virtual 2009 / Jean-Charles Druais

As part of our virtual reality series I’ve blogged about software and applications, so I figured it’s time to tackle equipment. I sort of crashed the French Association of Virtual Reality’s meeting held this time Dassault Systèmes Campus, and David Nahon (read his VR interview here) kindly introduced me to Christophe Chartier. Christophe works on the VR equipment side as president for Immersion and has been active in the virtual reality market for quite awhile.

Here’s what I asked Christophe:

  1. How do you think VR equipment for everyday people (home usage) will evolve?
  2. What’s the future of VR equipment and what’s the next innovation?
  3. What work are you doing with multi-touch computing and VR tactile interfaces?
  4. What’s the future of virtual reality? (I’m asking several people this one so we can compare notes.)

Christophe Chartier

Following the interview I’ve included a video of Immersion’s Cubtile 3D multitouch device.

Q1: How do you think VR equipment for everyday people (home usage) will evolve?

If we want the development of VR equipment to be really mainstream the technology must be transparent. So forget set-ups including specialized gloves and headsets, which are today’s emblems of virtual reality equipment. In my opinion they won’t permit the mass deployment of VR technology. The set-up should integrate with the home environment, and for this we need equipment that’s more and more intelligent. Perhaps we’re talking more about augmented reality permitting us to enrich our homes.

This could be transparent surfaces where information superimposes itself. I think this sort of technology will help enrich daily living and improve our everyday lives. It could make access to complex information simpler, or to make it simpler to collaborate within the family whether it’s with members in the same home or far away, and also with services from a distance.

Q2: What’s the future of VR equipment and what’s the next innovation?

Multi-touch is a part of the revolution I think. It gives a surface the capacity to anticipate an action or a need and I think it’s the kind of thing that’s going to be the most accessible in the home, creating a space in the home where people can gather and share information. And it can at the same time be used to manage your household. So the multi-touch, at least a multi-point collaborative surface, will perhaps be the quickest to integrate in homes. Today this sort of thing is prototyped, but the innovation will be in price and accessibility. Although we’re starting to see companies use the technology, it needs to be less expensive and simpler to use to become accessible for the masses.

Q3: Tell me about the work you’re doing with multi-touch computing and VR tactile interfaces.

The multi-touch project is part of an internal research and development project at Immersion. The project is called iliGHT and the objective is to define products and describe usages in the domain of collaborative multi-touch interfaces. One of the first products to come out of this research is a table, a surface, permitting several people to interact collaboratively with 3D information.

The iliGHT table consists of an object that physically resembles a table, with a rear projection and a capacity to detect information and movement from the hand, thumb and fingers. The algorithms we use allow us to go pretty far in the segmentation of hand information. We can fully enter into collaboration around cases based in virtual reality. For starters, you can manipulate graphic portfolios, enlarge images, share and discuss them. Going beyond this, you can manipulate 3D objects.

Q4: What’s the future of virtual reality?

Omnipresence when it comes to designing products. Virtual reality is the missing link to reduce costs, to better understand manufacturing, to design better. We’ve been on the market for 15 years, and we’re feeling the demand accelerating. For me the evolution is that there will be a VR set-up in every product conception chain, permitting people to validate concepts and understand better.

Merci Christophe! ;-)

I got the chance to see Christophe again at Laval Virtual and actually play with Cubtile, another one of Immersion’s inventions. Check it out in this video (it’s worth watching through to the augmented reality bit).

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How’d you like to have one of those at home?

Best,

Kate

Related posts:

Virtual Reality Series: Interviews & I Spy

Live from Laval Virtual Day 1: R-Screen

Day 2 @ Laval Virtual = Fire

Day 3 @ Laval Virtual: Ergo Wide 3

Modern Times in Manufacturing

By Michael

Watching Charlie Chaplin working the assembly line makes a lasting impression of what manufacturing means. Nuts and bolts, big wheels turning, adrenaline pumping. Clearly, manufacturing is where things are done.

Think of Ford’s production of the Model T like “Tin Lizzy” which started just over 100 years ago in 1908. The goal: produce a reliable automobile at a price people could afford. The price was just 400$ at the time and this was quite an achievement, but the color was black and custom changes not at hand. Fifteen million models of the same car have been produced at the Highland Park Plant in Michigan during a period of 19 years (video).

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Times have changed no doubt. After the revolution of Total Quality Control which has driven the manufacturing industry to re-engineer their processes, improve their tools and train their staff to focus on better and better products, market demand for Mass Customization has forced discrete manufacturing to allow a great deal of flexibility to build individual variants from product platforms. See for example what offers the Mini brand to customers: not only they can configure their new car online with colors and all features, but they are also invited to add their unique design to go on the roof top of a car which hereby becomes a custom product.

And of course there is an ever increasing and pervasive pressure for short time to a global marketplace, surely at competitive cost structures, to be realized at the best locations, at the same time meeting demand for best quality, the right features, and all meeting legal regulations.

This makes a seemingly simple product like a printed T-shirt a global challenge. With designs changing about every 5 weeks at a leading fashion retailer … 5 sizes, 4 cuts, 10 colors, 100 variants of prints, 10 production sites in 5 countries, 1500 shops in 73 countries … you do the math regarding what needs to be accomplished to have those products ready for sale in stores for customers.

Manufacturing today has acquired an enormous complexity. The challenge: enable managers to visualize the global picture and gain the controls needed to take the right decisions. Supply chains, equipment and resources need to be managed. Production schedules and logistics need to be organized.

Manufacturing has also become an integral part of the PLM process which is interwoven with design and engineering. Production needs to be prepared early during the design process and product changes need to be accommodated with no delay, even long after production has started. PLM software has become the backbone to manage the challenges in collaborative manufacturing. Read more about how DELMIA’s 3D virtual factory solutions support the creation of innovative production systems and enables experience of the complete manufacturing lifecycle.

A key component to the success of the 3D virtual factory is the ability to integrate with enterprise-wide ERP systems, to connect product engineering with manufacturing execution. These systems allow production people visualize what “is to be produced” and track change requests in real-time. To serve that need, Dassault Systèmes DELMIA has established a close partnership with Intercim, a leader in Manufacturing Execution Systems.

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With 25-year experience and over 200 customers in data rich manufacturing, Intercim takes care to proliferate information required to build the product to the shop floor, by bringing engineering, manufacturing and quality communities on the same collaboration platform. Thanks to the deep integration with Dassault Systèmes PLM platform, customers can reuse all their virtual information for real production and vice versa. Find Intercim on the PLM Marketplace.

The close loop between the real world and the virtual environment creates tremendous benefits and makes it an indispensable ingredient for customers who aim for 21st century manufacturing operations.

Enjoy a beautiful month of May.

Best,
Michael

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The Trebbia Bridge

By Kate

Instead of Back to the Future, the people of Italy’s Piacenza region are Leaping to the Future thanks to a virtual bridge.

You don’t need a DeLorean to get there, just 3DVIA Virtools and a few engineers, architects and urban planners.

For over 30 years, the people of Piancenza have been waiting for the construction of a bridge to cross the Trebbia river. Price-tagged at 26.5 million Euros, the bridge promises to bring significant improvements to local infrastructure.

The virtual bridge was “constructed” to anticipate work procedures, but it will also be used to feed local curiosity. Once the 2-3-year period construction phase begins, citizens will be able to take virtual tours through the Piancenza government’s website.  You can take a video sneak prevue here.

Now if only I could take a virtual tour of the Greater Paris architecture competition! And what about letting citizens vote for their favorite proposition?

Have you ever gotten to do that, as a citizen and consumer of urban development?

Best,

Kate



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