Virtual and Augmented reality technologies are starting to revolutionize compound product development and production processes. It’s an exciting area influencing many high-tech industries at the moment, but increasingly dribbling down the supply chain to Small and Medium-sized enterprises(SMEs) too.
Virtual and Augmented Reality:
In the pretext of manufacturing and product design, Virtual Reality (VR) digitally simulates a product or environment, as the user is able to interact and immerse themselves within it. Whereas with Augmented Reality (AR) the digital product is projected on to the real world background, unlike a digitally simulated one like VR.
Virtual reality (VR) was conceptualized since the 1950s. The idea that someone could connect to a machine and view a unending screen was fascinating. It held the promise of transporting people to new places where they could listen to a concert, view art,or have any number of other experiences without the burden of traveling.
Unfortunately, owing to it’s rudimentary nature; when VR made its way into consumer households in the early 90s via computers and gaming systems, couldn’t make much impact. In words of Matthew Schnipper though a true believer could immerse him or herself in the roughly built digital landscape, the gulf between that crude digital experience and the powerful subtly of real life was too great. In other words,the vision simply did not match the methods.
Though VR quietly went away, the concept was not forgotten. It was in 2012 the idea again gained mainstream owing to the creativity of Palmer Luckey, a young man who developed a homemade headset called Oculus Rift. The popular culture awareness of VR was fueled by Oculus Rift’s popular and successful Kickstarter campaign, and Facebook’s $2 billion purchase of the company in 2014.
What makes the Oculus Rift different from early predecessors is its high-resolution display, wide field of view and ultra-low latency head tracking. This means the graphics are very smooth and the user is less likely to experience aversion. These advances have led to the technology that energize the Samsung Gear VR, and the company also started accepting pre-orders for the Rift, which works with the Xbox One and gaming PCs.
Virtual and Augmented Reality for Design Development
From a product development perspectives VR and AR help to refine and optimize designs at an early stage. Concepts and options can be reviewed and modified quickly. Digital models can also be virtually tested, analyzed and triggered with tools like FEA and CFD. The result is rapid repetition design cycles and ultimately great products.
VR and AR make animated simulations possible. This is invaluable if you are serious about understanding how products will be used, with factors like access, look, ergonomics and feel coming into the scene. Anybody can understand a life-like simulation, whereas 2D engineering drawings and more complex 3D models can be difficult to interpret if you don’t have a technical background.
Ultimately VR and AR help communication and buy-in during product development. The result is a reduced technical risk and with a greater probability components and products.