Transforming Creative Design with Collaborative VR Prototyping

Anais Tarbi

Brand Marketing and Event Manager, ST Engineering Antycip

“In today’s challenging environment where industries are grappling with remote working, organisations could consider adopting Virtual Reality (VR) for prototyping, to enable designers and decision makers to view and experience their designs remotely, in a collaborative environment.”

Image courtesy of TechViz

Being able to quickly develop, test, and iterate on a design can help add value across a range of sectors. No matter whether you are undertaking a virtual walkthrough of a building, producing a new chassis for a vehicle or designing a new product or element of an existing build – prototyping is an essential step.

The advent of technology and computer-aided design (CAD) has made making the leap from drawing to finished product faster than ever. However, while it may be possible to design with greater speed, it is also essential to ensure that you are designing correctly.

So, what exactly is virtual prototyping and how can virtual reality be deployed to help refine and add true value to your design approach?

We interview Anais Tarbi, Brand Marketing and Event Manager, ST Engineering Antycip to find out more:

Q: What is virtual prototyping?

A: Virtual prototyping involves using a software platform to design a virtual render of the product in question. This can be created to specific requirements, allowing you to review it in a way that would be impossible with a digital model.

This lets you place virtual stresses on the product, review aesthetics, and ensure that every element of the product is exact. This can also be used to carry out a full simulation that is backed up by machine learning algorithms – allowing you to check the material integrity, utility, and aesthetic of a design.

Image courtesy of TechViz

Q: How can Virtual Reality be applied to support collaborative virtual prototyping?

A: Once a design is completed in a CAD program, it can be reviewed internally using a range of cutting-edge technologies. Using other peripherals such as VR headsets and interfaces can also help the digital design process be much more intuitive and allow you to realise your product in a virtual space – letting you conduct digital walkthroughs and comprehensive reviews intuitively and with ease.

The high degree of compatibility of CAD programs and VR hardware means that team members, clients and customers can ‘step into’ the design process and get a more realised vision of how a project or design will appear.

Using VR allows these reviews to happen as needed and in a controlled environment – eliminating risk to the individual reviewing the elements. The increased level of visual fidelity means that you can create a model that is 1:1 providing an accurate representation of what the solution might look like with fine details.

VR enables individuals experience prototypes in a real-world space along with massively improving the impact and legibility of a design. Tweaks and amendments can be made on the fly, allowing you to instantly react to gut impressions, iterate and improve, or carry out detailed work to save time and money and keep on budget. This can be done through the use of professional head mounted displays or using immersive displays such as VR CAVEs.

Image courtesy of TechViz

Q: How does Antycip Simulation enhance the collaborative VR experience?

A: Teamwork and collaboration has become a challenge for global firms that have departments spread across the globe. Using our VR collaborative design review functionality, you can gather the stakeholders for a project in the same VR workspace and display your prototype on a 1:1 scale. These sessions could take place remotely where everyone logs in to the same VR workspace with their individual head-mounted displays, or view the prototype in the same physical space, such as a VR CAVE.

The VR CAVE is a virtual reality space, essentially a cube-shaped room, in which the walls, floor and ceiling can be used as large projection screens to create an immersive virtual environment. User’s movements are tracked by sensors in the VR CAVE and the video they interact with adjusts continuously to adapt to their individual perspective.

The flexible nature of VR means it can be tweaked to match a number of working styles and place the material in unique simulated environments – letting you take an innovative approach to design reviews and simplifying the variables that need to be considered when presenting a physical model in full.

This allows you to get many eyes on a design and stimulate new insights that would simply not be possible with an unfinished physical prototype. It also empowers your teams to spot errors and save money early on in the process, allowing you and your team to enjoy a truly living prototype.

Q: What has the feedback been for users of such solutions?

Reactive, engaging, and thoroughly entertaining – VR led design helps manage our customers’ budgets and improve engagement where it matters most. Letting you capture feedback and implement it in a truly productive way.

Virtual reality can provide any engineer with the right software to have physically realistic digital prototypes accessible at their fingertips. With an immersive virtual prototype, engineering teams can assess the integration of product, people, and process, in life-sized immersive environments.

Q: What software do you work with?

While there is a range of VR prototyping software options available, a leading software provider we work with is TechViz. First founded in 2004, TechViz offers a regularly evolving platform for your prototyping actions. These include:

– Intuitive Design: TechViz was created to specifically support enterprise platforms and is simple to deploy and use.

– Broad Toolkit: The company markets itself as a ‘digital mock-up’ suite of tools that allow you to carry out a range of actions such as simple measurements, deploying exportable section planes, and hiding and showing elements of the design. This also allows for easy annotation of models that can be shared and reviewed at a later date.

– Visualisation Options: This includes a full building walk through and a full complement of collaboration, visualisation, assembly, body tracking tools and more.

Rapid prototyping using VR unquestionably adds value to a range of processes. This can save time, money, and build efficiency, letting your teams work at capacity without the risk of burnout and capture knowledge from a perspective that would be otherwise unavailable. With the current situation, working remotely has become the new norm and our collaborative VR prototyping solution is able to allow so.

If you want to learn more about how deploying an enterprise grade VR prototyping solution can bring benefit to your projects, contact our expert team.

ST Engineering Antycip is Europe’s leading provider of simulation software, projection and display systems, and VR systems for training and aiding with safety.

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