Visualizing 3D Design with Ease

By Alyssa
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Designers have been working in 3D software for years, generally reviewing their work on a 2D computer screen.  Even as larger monitors were produced, there were limits to how well a product could be viewed on a flat surface; not all product elements could be seen enough to ensure issues were caught early – critical since that’s when it is a lot less expensive to make changes.

Some large, well-funded companies developed immersive CAVEs (Cave Automatic Virtual Environment): virtual reality environments consisting of a cube-shaped room in which the walls, floors and ceilings are projection screens.  Donning a VR headset, users can interact aided by devices such as wands, joysticks or data gloves.

But not everyone can afford to build a CAVE, and even those that can are limited by the expense of the headsets and by the requirement that users be present at the facility in which the CAVE is located.

In 2016, a new solution for 3D design review emerged: low-cost head mounted devices, or HMDs. This development is opening up an entirely new age of design.  Now, many more designers and engineers – regardless of where in the world they are – can immerse themselves in a design and experience it in a way that makes any issues much more evident.  This saves time and money because changes can be made before the physical product is built.

Check out the latest issue of Compass for an article entitled “Product Design Enters a New Reality.”  You’ll discover examples of how organizations like Embraer and NASA are leveraging this immersive virtuality (iV) technology, and how they expect it to improve their designs and the processes behind them, as different teams can collaborate more easily and see – and resolve – issues in less time.

 

Images © Embraer and © HTC

Immersive Virtual Reality and Visual Handicap

By Richard
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Last week, I attended an event at Telecom ParisTech, one of France’s top engineering schools. The event gathered about 30 experts in medicine and engineering for a set of conferences and debates dealing with Smart and  Communicating Devices for Health and Handicap.

Smart Devices can help in several health domains, from remote diagnosis to re-education. Being able to perform remote medecine can be useful in secluded spots such as high-mountain while re-education can take benefit from serious gaming applications.

On another hand, smart devices can help revive classic objects such as a white stick for visually impaired people. Just add an Infra Red scanner or a laser scanner and you get a Smart Electronic White Stick. Usually, you must touch the obstacle with the stick to be able to avoid it, and that way you’re unable to detect obstacles above the ground such as low tree branches. With such scanners and the help of a suitable sound or vibrating alert, visually impaired people can detect and avoid obstacles much sooner and in a much more fluent way. Demo videos are amazing, with people able to detect narrow corridors, the infamous low tree branches or a set of closed columns and avoid them peacefully, nearly as well as a person with unimpaired vision.

Talking about visual handicap and serious games lead me to an application shown on the Arts & Métiers ParisTech booth, another French top school of Engineers. The application, called Sensivise, has been produced thanks in part to our Passion for Innovation Program (hey! what else? ;-))  with 3DVIA Virtools. The goal is very simple: help valid people to understand the drag of visual impairment.

Tubular Vision simulation in the Sensivise application (urban environment)

Tubular Vision simulation in the Sensivise application (urban environment)

People get immersed in an urban or a familiar domestic 3D interactive environment. At first, you navigate with your regular, usual valid sight. Then, a visual impairment is simulated and you must adjust your behavior accordingly.

Today, two simulations are available: the central scotoma and the tubular vision (or tunnel vision, or gun barrel vision), but other ones could be added later.  The names and pictures say enough about each of those visual impairments. You have to make your way in the city with them, cross a street, avoid a car getting out of a car park etc. Back home, you have to go to the kitchen pick up a milk bottle while avoiding the low table in the living room or to have a shower without hitting the bath tub.

Central Scotoma simulation in Sensivise

Central Scotoma simulation in the Sensivise application (domestic environment)

The application shown on Arts & Métiers ParisTech was on a laptop and presents the user with several challenges such as the ones described above. Serious games to help valid people to get in visually impaired people’s shoes, understand their burden and ease life together. When you have gone through this application, maybe you won’t arrange your flat the same way if you happen to live with a visually impaired person.

Though effective on a laptop, Sensivise shows its full power only in its immersive version, as shown in our LIVES (Lifelike Immersive Virtual Experience Space) where you are really immersed in interactive 3D with suitable glasses.

I had several opportunities to show this application in that context, once to a person affected with central scotoma. She told me it was quite realistic, the only glitch being that valid people tend to try and look aside the central macula, which visually impaired people can’t do (the macula “turns” with the eyes). Since then, I always tell people not to do that, but this feedback accounts for the power and relevance of immersive virtual reality.

Sensivise immersive version as shown in DS Campus LIVES

Sensivise immersive version as shown in DS Campus LIVES

A last word: most applications presented at Télécom Paris Tech claimed they used “Virtual Reality”.  Nope.  A plain graphic serious game is not VR, even with nice computer art. Only 3D immersion can do the trick. There’s still a long road ahead, but applications such as Sensivise are showing the way.

Keep 3D-ing!

Regards,

Richard BreitnerRichard Breitner, Passion for Innovation Program Manager

Immersive 3D Reducing Burn Victims’ Pain

By Bernie
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It’s extremely gratifying to work for a company that helps so many people do so much good. And what could be more important than relieving the pain of a child who has suffered serious burns?

The University of Washington’s Dr. Hunter Hoffman, a virtual reality researcher, and Dr. Dave Patterson, a pain and hypnosis expert, set just that challenge for themselves when they began to research how to reduce pain without drugs. They hypothesized that if patients could let their minds go somewhere else while their wounds were cleaned and dressed, the distraction would significantly reduce the pain.

They developed the first iteration of the environment they call SnowWorld, a glacial land populated by virtual snowmen, penguins and mastodons, with funding from Microsoft co-founder Paul G. Allen and the National Institutes of Health. The original SnowWorld proved traditional video game technology could help, but Drs. Hoffman and Patterson thought a more immersive experience could help more. They decided to redevelop SnowWorld as a 3D Virtual Reality (VR) environment.

Firsthand_04bis

For help, they turned to University of Washington colleagues Howard Rose and Ari Hollander, founders of Firsthand Technology. Firsthand is a “serious games company” focused on developing medical training applications and treatment applications for maladies such as post-traumatic stress disorder.

“We rebuilt SnowWorld with 3DVIA Virtools from Dassault Systèmes to make it simpler to modify,” Hollander says. “The flexibility of 3DVIA Virtools allows SnowWorld’s creators to more easily test different experimental hypotheses and identify factors relevant to better pain control.”

The deeply immersive nature of SnowWorld built in 3DVIA Virtools improved the level of pain relief and made it easy for the University of Washington team to alter the scenario to test different hypotheses, Hoffman says.

“3DVIA Virtools is versatile enough to let us explore a variety of options without investing so much time and effort testing out an idea that we feel locked into keeping the change regardless of its usefulness,” Dr. Hoffman says. “Virtools has become an integral part of our research team’s success.”

Programming speed is another key advantage, allowing Firsthand’s clients to see their concepts evolve quickly. Realism, too, contributes to SnowWorld’s success.

“In the 3DVIA Virtools version of SnowWorld, the snowflakes are just incredible,” Dr. Hoffman says. “The magical 3D snowflakes help patients feel ‘there’ in SnowWorld, which leads to grater pain relief.”

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Patients report that they perceive less pain when immersed in SnowWorld, allowing doctors to treat them with significantly lower levels of potentially addictive painkillers than previously possible. Best of all, MRI scans prove patients don’t just perceive less pain – in many cases, their brains actually experience 50 percent fewer pain messages than those same patients experience without SnowWorld.

It’s exciting to see the way doctors are using 3D immersive technologies such as 3DVIA Virtools to improve patient treatments. What other sorts of medical treatments can you imagine with the power of 3D?

Best,

Bernie



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