Real Virtuality – Beyond Hollywood

By Michael

Here I am at Dassault Systèmes, the company spezializing in 3D and lifelike experiences. Dare I ask:

  • How useful is a virtual experience?
  • How real is a computer generated environment?

Virtual reality has come a long way. In Hollywood for example. Think of “You’ve got mail” as a first step, a film made in 1998 with Meg Ryan getting all excited about receiving a virtual letter on her computer screen.

In “Matrix ” also made in ‘98, where Keanu Reeves is torn between the real world (not cozy) and a virtual world (the matrix), which is revealed as being the false reality.

Further back and quite visionary, Stanly Kubrick’s 1968 film “A Space Odyssey 2001” (note that we have already passed this year) presents Computer HAL with virtual intelligence and in charge of almost everything in the space ship, starts to misbehave and needs to be shut down .

Finally in “Disclosure ”, a movie from 1994 (not really a good one I think), where Michael Douglas solves the story’s mystery by means of entering a virtual library in full VR gear with data gloves and head set.

Where are we TODAY really – with virtual reality ?

To highlight this, let’s look at a recent example from the aircraft industry. Airbus’ manufacturing site for aircraft wings in the UK, Broughton, needed an immersive virtuality environment to validate methods and process improvements in manufacturing for their new A350XWB aircraft – before any physical model was built.

Their requirements included:

  • Working directly with their CATIA and DELMIA PLM data and turn them into a 3D immersive virtuality model (without any need for translation)
  • Utilizing head and hand tracking for full immersion
  • Linking into a high-end haptic system, i.e. to have force feedback in reaction to manipulations on the model
  • Making this an integral day-to-day tool for their manufacturing engineers


Airbus got all this from Virtalis, a UK-based system integrator specializing in immersive virtuality turnkey installations and a Dassault Systèmes cooperation partner in the virtual experience domain around 3DVIA Virtools, CATIA and DELMIA software. Virtalis was capable of putting this together to meet Airbus’ needs , based on the Dassault Systèmes PLM environment, all while incorporating key solution components from Haption, another member of the DS software partner community.

So this seems pretty real and useful, doesn’t it?

Meanwhile back in Hollywood: they don’t stop getting inspired and borrowing technology for their movie plots. This time they shopped at Creaform based in Quebec, a specialist in 3D scanning and reverse engineering and a solution partner of Dassault Systèmes as well.


Have fun with this detective crime-buster clip on Creaform’s website. Here’s a screenshot from it to entice you:

I’ll talk to you again soon with more cool stuff …


Say It in 3D!

By Richard

Hi, this is Richard. Before I talk about Passion for Innovation, my usual playground, I’d like to share some thoughts about 3D as a universal language.

First, let me tell you I’m really fond of languages. I think language reveals many things about the unique genius of a given people. The origin and evolution of a language is tightly linked to its speakers’ history, and the colloquial expressions reflect the way they see the world. That’s why I try to learn some basic words and useful sentences whenever I travel in a country I’ve never been before. It’s a matter of respect and helps me to be open to other cultures.

So, what’s the link with 3D? At Dassault Systèmes we believe that 3D is a language in its own right, a universal language. At this point I imagine some of you may be raising your eyebrows in sort of a “what the heck are they talking about?” kind of way. Let me explain.

Getting rid of the Babel curse is an old dream, which led to humans trying to build universal languages. The most well-known ones are Volapük and Esperanto. Although the latter one is still spoken today, all failed to fulfill the dream.

The reason is that you do not build a language from scratch. As mentioned before, a language is tightly linked to history and the genius of the people who forged it. It reflects the people’s deepest nature.

So, are we hopeless? Of course not. Here enters 3D.

Look at children. Before they can speak as adults do, kids naturally use drawings to communicate their vision of the world and their feelings. They also use gestures. Adults will use gestures as well to try and communicate with foreigners when they do not know a single word of their language.

As soon as we can’t rely on words, we resort to a direct, non-verbal, more or less accurate representation of the world. In other words, we draw– either on a flat surface (2D) or “in the air” (3D gestures).

If we could have a direct, exact representation of the world to present to other people, we would use it to communicate. That’s the point. Interactive 3D is the solution.

  • Because it’s 3D, it accurately represents our world (much better than a 2D drawing, even if you’re a reincarnated Da Vinci, perspective genius)
  • Because it’s interactive, you can let people play around with it, manipulate it at will.

Let’s take an example: Jean-Pierre Houdin’s theory about the Great Pyramid building. The downloadable full story is as crystal clear as humanly possible. However, building such a monument needs techniques which are delicate to put into words. Because we all have different backgrounds and experiences, some specific words will carry different meanings, some sentences will ring loud and clear for architects or scientists but not for people unfamiliar with those universes.

Now, let’s consider the 3D site. Watch Jean-Pierre’s avatar explain his theory “in person”. Experience the interactive, 3D navigation. Walk around the pyramid and navigate to places where you would like to see more details. You can do it, it’s all in 3D, and it’s all real-time and interactive. Best of all, if you have a chance to attend the immersive 3D show at La Geode (a giant media dome in Paris), you will experience Khufu’s building as if you were in Egypt at that time. Wearing special glasses, you will be among the workers hauling blocks of limestone and see the monument taking shape stone after stone. No lecture, no matter if it’s made by the world’s best orator, can match that.

3D eliminates all barriers. It’s not anymore about cultural or educational backgrounds. It’s all about pure experience, sensations and emotions. 3D talks directly to your senses.

That’s why we believe 3D is the universal language. We’ll show it through new, exciting projects soon. Stay tuned!

Keep 3D-ing!



A Man in Black, Some Engineers, an Age-Old Mystery and 3D Software

By Kate

Passion. Obsession. An architect who wears only black clothing. 3D software engineers. Bob Brier. Immersive, interactive 3D experiences. Scientific simulation in the virtual world.

All these things have lead to two important discoveries:

• the Great Pyramid was constructed via an internal spiral ramp
• the King’s Chamber was assembled thanks to a sophisticated counterweight system lodged in the Grand Gallery

Zoom back to Passion.

I’d like to introduce you to Richard. He’s the guy on the left of the above photo.

Under the direction of our Interactive and Experiential Marketing Director Mehdi Tayoubi (guy on the right), Richard manages Dassault Systèmes’ Passion for Innovation program. It was through the Passion for Innovation program that Jean-Pierre Houdin (said architect in black) was able to fully develop his internal ramp and counterweight theories, a process which lead to the scientific exploration/validation of the next question: why are there cracks in the King’s Chamber?

This is just one example of the exciting projects bubbling up from Dassault Systèmes “Passion” program. Next week Richard’s on deck at 3D Perspectives to share other passionate projects with you. So I thought it was only proper that I introduce him to you first (we southerners place high importance on introductions).

If you’d like to dig deeper into The Great Pyramid’s construction secrets, you may be interested to read the English or French book (we don’t get a sales %):

The Secret of the Great Pyramid
Le Secret de la Grande Pyramide

Bonus must-sees include the gorgeous trailers to the FR and ENG films on YouTube, as well as the interactive, immersive virtual reality show being featured at La Geode in Paris . Enjoy!



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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.