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Spotlight
Wrapping Your Head Around AR, VR and Mixed Reality-Literally
By Rita Stange ConnectPress Managing Editor

Lately, we've been exploring virtual reality, augmented reality, and mixed reality technology being used by the engineering and design communities in both the manufacturing and AEC (architecture, engineering and construction) space.
We caught up with ESI, Theorem Solutions, Elysium and Virtalis to see how their AR and VR technology has gained interest from, and is currently being utilized by their customers.

While AR and VR is big in the gaming industry it's rapidly growing in the engineering community. The rise of headsets such as the Microsoft HoloLens, HTC Vive and Oculus Rift have become affordable, ranging in the hundreds of dollars vs. hundreds of thousands dollars that it use to cost to create a cave or virtual environment. This has made it more accessible in the design and engineering community; along with the ability to turn tablets or mobile devices into an AR/VR enabled-device.

Plus, companies have realized the potential the technology has to visualize a design before it goes to manufacturing.

So what is the difference between the AR and VR?
From my understanding, AR lets users see their product in relation to the real-world and predict how it will behave in its environment.

VR on the other hand, is a fully immersive, virtual environment, where similarly users can explore a design and how a human being will interact with the product or how it will perform when in use.

VR can also be used to determine how to best build the product and gain an idea of what it takes to maintain that product or building.

Now let's have a look at some of the AR/VR offerings by CAD and CAE companies, such as ESI Group, Theorem Solutions, Elysium, and a few others.

Theorem Solutions, who traditionally specialize in data translation and visualization, have in the last few years been dabbling in AR/VR, and recently launched with the Visualization Experience app, which is part of Theorem's Digital Realities product family combining AR, VR and mixed reality.

According to Stuart Thurlby, president, Theorem Solutions, with the company's Visualization Experience app, which is data and device agnostic, users can take any CAD/PLM data on any headset or VR-enabled device and get a greater understanding of a product, spot clashes and identify problems so they can rework their CAD data accordingly. The app prepares the data and users have access instantaneously.

Thurlby said their customers are currently exploring the technology, but thinks it will be a while before it's widely used. "People have to play with it," he added.

ESI Group, who has a background in CAE and simulation products, are seeing more rapid use from its customers. ESI Group started offering VR solutions when the company acquired IC.IDO (I-see-I-do), now rebranded as ESI IC.IDO, four years ago.

Eric Kam, product marketing and community manager, Immersive Experience, ESI Group, said that ESI's IC.IDO does more than simulation software can do, which essentially tells users if the product will pass or fail.

With IC.IDO users just upload their 3D data into IC.IDO and bam, they can look at it in VR in true to life scale with a headset like HTC Vive or Oculus Rift, right from a desktop or tablet.

He said ESI's customers are rapidly using VR to solve problems and are seeing the value in VR to see how products can be built, used and serviced. Futhermore, with IC.IDO users can all have access to the same real-time data so they can easily collaborate on a design.

Read the case study on JSW below to learn more on how its customers are using IC.IDO.

Another data translation-type company, Elysium, has also recently seen the potential for VR, but are primarily marketing to AEC customers. The company, who started as an interoperability provider for MCAD companies now offers InfiPoints for AEC professionals for viewing scanned data and now InfiPoints for Oculus. Announced January 2018, Infipoints for Oculus enables users to utilize Oculus VR Headset in InfiPoints.

Kotoe Onoda, global business representative, Elysium, said the company is seeing VR used by AEC teams for collaboration and precise planning, virtual tours for clients, and risk management.

Lenovo also offers a VR-enabled headset that I personally got to try running on Virtalis VR software. First thing I noticed is that it surprisingly did not get me nauseous like other headsets and software combos I've tried.

No wonder they've got it right, Virtalis has been making VR software for more than a decade, specifically for the engineering and design community. Keith Russell, global accounts manager, Virtalis, said "what VR is brilliant for is you can build a digital twin and explore ideas..." Users can get down to the nuts and bolts and determine how something is going to be put together.

He said what's made it more accessible for CAD users is the explosion of all the low-cost VR headsets on the market so every designer can have access to one right from their desktop. Russell said Virtalis is seeing enterprise-wide use of VR.

And the whole nausea thing, he said, just stems from bad VR, if the graphics are slow.

All in all I was pretty impressed with the Virtalis demo I received first-hand. "Not bad," I said to Russell. He laughed, like thanks.

I'd encourage you to have a look yourself next time you have access to VR or AR. For now you can check out some of the technology highlighted below in this Industry Spotlight.
Features
JSC Zelenodolsk Design Bureau Accelerates with ESI IC.IDO
By ESI Group
JSC used ESI IC.IDO (I-see-I-do) to bring their customers on board for proposed marine compartment layouts without costly mock-up construction.

 
News
Theorem Solutions Launches App to Democratize Augmented, Mixed and Virtual Reality in Engineering and Manufacturing
Press Release Issued by Theorem Solutions
The Visualization Experience app is part of Theorem's Digital Realities product line that mixes augmented, mixed and virtual Reality technologies.

Dell Partners with Meta to Bring Augmented Reality to Industries
Press Release Issued by Dell
Meta 2 AR solutions can help engineers visualize and manipulate virtual schematics overlaid on a car or building space under construction.

Lenovo Makes Pro Virtual Reality More Accessible with the ThinkStation P320 at Develop3D Live
Announcement by Lenovo
Launched at Develop3D Live and available end of April, the updated workstation is suitable for both single-part and sub-assembly modelling in VR.