From drawn long sword to vehicle development
Virtual worlds conquer the automotive industry
With my long sword drawn, I creep through the marshes of Vizima with my hero. In my other hand, I am carrying a torch that bathes my surreal surroundings in diffuse light.
With the sophisticated graphics, it is easy to forget that this is a virtual simulation, and that in fact I am in the middle of a computer game. The developers have implemented every possible means offered by graphics programming to create a world that manifests a degree of realism never seen before. Only the use of a modern virtual reality headset, for instance Oculus Rift or HTC Vive, would intensify this impression.
What started as a game becomes reality
Now, of course, comes the question as to whether it might not be possible to use this technology in applications outside of the entertainment sector. For more than 8 years now, Feynsinn, an EDAG Group brand specialising among other things in virtual reality, has been employing visualisation technologies in industrial applications - with enormous success.
From the validation of the vehicle design during the early stage, through the virtual inspection of factories, to a completely new customer experience at a virtual point of sale: there are a great many applications. However, whereas the use of visualisation technology has become standard in many fields relating to the vehicle development process in the course of the last few years, the hardware had barely developed beyond its infancy.
For many years, use was made of professional tools which, although tailor-made for applications in the automotive sector, still failed to fit the bill as they were neither easy to use nor comfortable to handle.
In the meantime, VR technology has come of age. Instead of special automotive products, there are now VR headsets from the mass market. Easy to use, stylish and incredibly adjustable. The flexibility of the fields of application must be matched by the flexibility of the software behind them. But what do you do when off-the-peg software no longer does the job and special products for each application scenario have simply become too expensive?
Virtual Lego for developers
At this point, Feynsinn's solution is to turn to technologies from the computer and video games industry. The game engines used here are freely programmable modules that enable just about any application to be covered, and can be seen as a kind of virtual Lego for specialists and software engineers. From the flexible assessment of lighting situations in the interior of a vehicle to the virtual inspection of a factory - Feynsinn provides customer support from the conception of a product to its implementation. Marketing and sales, too, can be can be propelled to unprecedented heights if game engines are brought into play - to levels previously reserved for the entertainment industry. From the interactive product at the dealer's showroom to the virtual experience on the game console at home: with the Game Engine modules used by Feynsinn, virtual worlds can be created that offer the customer more than all the previous media. And the best thing of all: the cost involved is very moderate, as the necessary CAD data is already available in development and only needs to be modified for a particular application.
The future was yesterday. VR is today.
And it goes on and on. Affordable hardware makes it possible to reproduce our reality in more and more detail. Today, 61 percent of all German households with children already have a game console. In autumn 2016, SONY will be releasing the PlayStation VR, virtual reality glasses for the SONY PlayStation 4, a product that opens the door to an intense gaming experience without requiring expensive hardware or extensive technical knowledge. In just a few years, we can expect to see virtual reality and augmented reality penetrating all areas of our daily life. What began with Pokemon-Go - a taste of things to come - has now become a highly efficient application that is penetrating the automotive industry.
And people in this field are already asking questions about the right tool, the right module, the right approach. Our answer is "Game Engine", to breath life into this new virtual world.
It is time for us to reach for our long swords, look out for the next turning in the virtual road and examine the particulars of this new world, because sooner that we think, we will see it entering into and becoming part of our working lives.