How to change the use of visualization in the design in the era of virtual and augmented reality. Part 4

    In the previous three articles, we talked about the fact that visualization in the context of design and design is on the verge of change. Today, most of us are focused on photorealism based on 3D geometry. However, our interaction with the created objects was mainly carried out using two-dimensional interfaces - on the screen or by means of printed information. Today we are looking for completely different ways to interact with this data. Virtual reality (Virtual Reality, VR) is a way to dive into a virtual product, and although it became available at least twenty years ago, the cost of the immersion process and the level of realism have changed since then.

    Now the market is filled with virtual reality headsets priced at $ 1,000. They are intelligent and efficient devices created by world leaders in the field of electronics, rather than small-scale manufacturers. Due to economies of scale and consumer demand in the gaming market, this gives tremendous advantages to professional users.

    In combination with first-class workstations that support virtual reality based on Intel Xeon processors, this will provide the opportunity to interact with the virtual product in a way that previously had to pay at least $ 150,000. This is a revolution!

    Currently on the market is available a limited number of commercially available systems with support for virtual reality. We have identified a number of systems and vendors that are starting to build virtual reality support into their products, but even they have yet to make such tools publicly available.

    The situation will change in the next year or two, as the hardware is rapidly evolving, and the development tools are becoming more reliable and affordable - and the demand for them is increasing. And then augmented reality (Augmented Reality, AR) will be included in this combination. While the goal of virtual reality, in a professional context, is to create a completely virtual world in which you can develop, evaluate and test a product, augmented reality is different because it allows us to take the real world (which we see through our eyes or through the screen) and complement its digital information, whether it is performance or operational requirements imposed on the physical product,

    Automotive manufacturers are already exploring the potential of using augmented reality in production facilities to improve production efficiency (image rights belong to Microsoft Inc.).

    Spotlight visualization

    So, where is the place for traditional visualization methods? The answer is that the visualization techniques and skills used to create high-quality, photo-realistic tools lead nowhere. There are many reasons for this, but we will consider only a couple of areas.

    First, visualization and reproduction have become central to the workflow of many organizations and, in many cases, to a much greater degree than concept development and design analysis, have penetrated other activities that are part of the development, production and sale of products.

    Presented tools are used for presentation, marketing, sales and more. This need will not disappear. On the contrary, there is a weighty argument in favor of the fact that the importance of this set of skills will increase further as the virtual / augmented reality penetrates into the world of professionals.

    Even with the development of virtual and augmented reality, the ability to receive photorealistic images will play a major role, as at the consumer and professional / production levels, users need more and more realism.

    What difficulties are expected?

    As we said in this report, several obstacles stand in the way of the wide distribution of these technologies.

    The first is high computing power requirements. The ability to effectively develop virtual reality technology in a direct and understandable way depends on the capabilities of the graphics. If you cannot reach 90 frames per second with an ultra-low latency, you will have problems with any system you are using - namely, motion sickness and nausea.

    This is a fundamental principle. If users are expected to adopt this technology, they should be comfortable using it for long periods of total immersion and interaction with a virtual prototype.

    The second task is to support the software. Currently, the majority of virtual and augmented reality solutions are based on user platforms or at least require costly advice to streamline their work. There are only a small number of systems that include built-in support for "switching to virtual reality."

    We are seeing an increase in the number of such systems, but for their wide distribution it will take some time.

    Thirdly, of course, user recognition is necessary.

    Like any “new” technology, it takes a lot of time for the group of users to accept changes and new ways of working. Design and development are in many ways among those that resist change. However, after evaluating all the benefits, these changes are usually accepted, incorporated into the workflow, and used with maximum efficiency.

    Here, the achievement of the highest levels of realism comes to the rescue, especially if the group includes users with both technical and non-technical skills. Thanks to realism, the technology will become familiar and comfortable, which will allow you to focus on the task being performed, and not on the means of its implementation ...

    The revolution in the field of virtual and augmented reality will lead to a demand for the development of high-powered computing tools, as they will become part of the mass workflows of development and design.

    What does the future look like?

    Consider the tasks and actions performed by developers and designers during the average week. Interaction with customers and suppliers, presentations, development and testing, preparation of a prototype, creation of documentation and tools - the development of virtual and augmented reality will not affect only a small part of them.

    The transition from a key part of the design work — the ability to work on a product model in 3D-format using traditional 3D CAD tool sets, drawing up drawings and not only — to virtual space for its assessment at the proper level can provide huge benefits. Speaking of a virtual environment, it is easy to imagine performing the same tasks with a group of geographically dispersed participants.

    Then imagine the process of presenting ideas, concepts and prototypes. To supplement the physical prototype, in the course of work, users or the management team can inspect the product, walk around it and make changes. Now it is possible. And over time, the process of immersion will only be improved and simplified.

    When it comes to higher levels of customization of products, one of the problems is to quickly introduce them into production. Augmented reality can be ideal for this - in the production room you can track every sample of the product as it moves along the conveyor.

    Now consider the product at the place of use. The installation, maintenance, and repair processes can take full advantage of streaming data from connected products or applying installation instructions that overlap with product launch tasks.

    Despite the heated discussions around technologies of virtual and augmented reality, we still have to see their massive adoption by the professional community, but the fact is that new solutions are already on the way. These are solutions that will allow us to improve the development, to customize and sell products in an environment with enhanced presence and to increase production efficiency and product life. Can you afford to stay away?

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