Virtual Reality Systems for Industrial Design Application

Virtual Reality Systems for Industrial Design Application

Alice Pignatel (Politecnico di Milano, Italy) and Fausto Brevi (Politecnico di Milano, Italy)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-617-9.ch009
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3D digital models are an essential tool that supports every step of the industrial product design process. For example, during the design review step photorealistic models are used as virtual prototypes for aesthetic and ergonomic evaluation of new products, in order to anticipate design evaluation and choices and to shorten the overall process. For this reason, industrial design enterprises usually have special rooms equipped with a projection based large display, for the realistic visualization of digital models. Usually, the interaction with 3D models is still based on mouse and keyboard, even if this kind of input is not fully adequate to the interaction needs concerning such special application. The aim of this chapter is to investigate different interaction techniques and outline their benefits and drawbacks compared to the interaction tasks required in this special field.
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A Virtual Room is expensive and space consuming, because it needs special equipments that must be installed in a large room fully dedicated to 3D models visualization purposes. Thus, virtual rooms are a convenient investment when dealing with highly complex products with a long life cycle.

Usually they are equipped with large screen that allows the visualization of the virtual object at the real scale. People attending to the review need to move freely in front of the screen; for this reason retro-projection techniques are used and projectors are connected to one or more workstations, according to the needed rendering performances, equipped with the high end real time rendering software. Moreover, additional devices allow stereoscopic visualization of the digital models in order to improve the realistic look of the virtual prototype.

Usually ten or fifteen people attend to the design review and their seats are placed right in front of the large screen, while the workstation is placed on their back, in a room corner, so that it is scarcely perceived during the work session.

Figure 1.

A typical virtual room set up


Key Terms in this Chapter

Virtual Prototype: Digital model used to validate product features during the design process, before committing the physical artifact.

Design Review: Mechanism for ensuring design standards, alignment, and diligence throughout the course of the product design process.

Interaction Device: tool that enables users to move and perform interaction in 3D environments.

Industrial Design: Creating and developing concepts and specifications that optimize the function, value and appearance of products and systems for the mutual benefit of both user and manufacturer.

Virtual Reality: Technology which allows a user to interact with a computer-simulated environment.

CAID Models: 3D models produced by CAID (Computer Aided Industrial Design) software;

Digital Models: Digital representation of objects obtained by means of 3D modelling software.

Virtual Room: Special rooms equipped with a projection based large display, for the realistic visualization of digital models.

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